Monday, January 19, 2015

Becoming | The Unfolding of You

I've had the pleasure of meeting some pretty incredible women in my life.  And when the Lord placed Jeanne Oliver in my small group last year at Hope Spoken, I had no idea of the sweet friendship that He had just birthed in my heart.

I admire Jeanne for so many reasons.  But what encourages and inspires me most is her love to equip and encourage people to be more.  To become more.  To dream big and then take the steps to make it happen.  I am so blessed to call her my friend and to have her believe in the things the Lord is at work doing in my life and in the life of my family.

When she asked me to be a part of her new video series she would be offering I was so humbled and honored.  She has gathered a vast variety of women all in different stages of life, all with different stories to share about what we are becoming in Christ....The Unfolding of You.

You can check out Jeanne's blog post here that tells all about the course and how it came about.

Here are the incredible women I am joining as we share our hearts with honesty and transparency, as we continue to grow in grace in the journeys the Lord has us all on.

Now, the one thing I am NOT becoming yet is efficient when it comes to time management!  I am such a horrible procrastinator.  Like terrible.   I should have already shared this with y'all forever and ago.  Please forgive me. The course has already begun but it is one you can jump in at any time and watch the videos at your own convenience.  SO... I hope you take advantage of this incredible opportunity.  Jeanne is offering this entire course FREE!  There has been so much work that has gone into it.  I know it will be a blessing to you.  As of right now there are over 5,000 ladies signed up for this series!  WHAT??  God is doing big things and spreading His truth in ways we could have never imagined.  I hope you join us! is the day that my video airs.  Gulp.  I ain't gonna lie.  I'm a little nervous to go watch it myself.  Long story short, and I share a little bit about this in the video, I had a nice polished version of what I was gonna share.  Nick worked the camera.  I looked in my hair was washed and I had on fresh makeup.  It all looked great.  But I didn't have a peace about what I shared.  The Lord just wouldn't let it go.  So what y'all will get to see is the raw version right after my morning quiet time with the Lord when I decided to record it all over again and throw my notes out the window and just share my heart.  I fluffed up the front of my hair,  touched up  yesterday's make up, threw on a shirt and sat there in my pajama bottoms all by myself and let it flow.   It's not polished. It's not perfect.  It's certainly not professional. But it's honest and its real and it's where the Lord is using me right now in this season of my life.  

The creative video was just gonna be me and Lydia singing together while Marcus played  his guitar for us but it kind of evolved and I ended up giving y'all a glimpse into Porterville Night.   I wasn't planning on that.  We were gonna be shooting basically just in the living room but ended up in the kitchen....which was a mess.  I still had dishes on the counter and pots on the stove from the day before and here I am in there shooting a video that over 5,000 will potentially be watching.   I should be mortified about that but I'm really not.  It's me.  It's who I am.  More than likely if you pop in to visit, your'e gonna find dishes in the sink and projects sitting on the counter.  

For those of you who are fans of Lydia and Marcus sharing their 15 second teasers of them singing on instagram, I have them singing an entire song!  I kinda feel like a caught a unicorn or something.  You might want to sign up just to watch that.

SO.  I hope you join me.  I pray the Lord uses something that is said over this 8 week course to encourage and equip you on your own journey.  The body of Christ is such a gift and I'm thankful foe these ladies opening up their lives to us.

Here's all the info you need to sign up and get started.

Directions to register:
To join this free study you just need to be registered at is free).

Once you are on the site you will find this study, free videos (business and art), my Creativity Takes Courage series and new online courses along the left hand side of the page.

You will find all of our courses/videos under the COURSES heading.

To register for Becoming | The Unfolding of You

1) Go to COURSES along the left hand side of the page

2) Go to the bottom of the course and click “view all” to find Becoming | The Unfolding of You

4) Click on Becoming | The Unfolding of You

3) Click the +join button on the upper right hand side

4) All of the details are on the page and you are all set for the study to begin on January 6, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stitchfix Seventeen

I've been so excited to show y'all last month's fix.  It was number 17!  That means I've had a box full of fashion goodness delivered to my door step 17 times now. And if any of you are paying attention then you will know I skipped Fix 16.  I'll come back to that one...maybe.  It wasn't my favorite but I  did keep a gorgeous necklace from it that I'd love to show you.

But anyways, back to 17.  I had asked my stylist to send me nothing but dresses since I knew I would be participating in Dressember. (a campaign to raise awareness for Human trafficking where all the participants wore nothing but dresses the entire month of December.)   I asked for dresses that would be comfortable to wear all day that I could pair with tights, boots and cardigans.

She did so good.  I liked every single one of them.  I was so sad that it was December and I still had a ton of Christmas shopping to do because I would have kept them all.  But I couldn't so I had to eliminate.  And after group texting pics to my three girls and my momma, I finally came to a decision.

1.  First up...this cobalt blue and black dress.  Honestly, when I first pulled it out of the box it was my least favorite. But upon trying it on, I really liked the way it fit.  It was very slenderizing and SO stinking comfortable.  Absolutely no constriction whatsoever.  But the only draw back was that it was a tad short.  So this one didn't make the cut.


2. Next up was this adorable teal polka dot dress.  It was actually my favorite piece when I opened the box.  I just knew it was gonna be a keeper. I could  picture it so many ways.

But it was a little tight in the bust which is kind of hidden by the cardigans... but I would never feel comfortable wearing it alone.  Again, my stylist, Catherine, came through with my request for comfort because it also was super stretchy.  But my daughters shot this one down so I ended up eliminating this one too.

3. This one was a no brainer for me.  It's black and white stripes (my favorite).  It has 3/4 length sleeves which I love.  I can wear it with or without a cardigan.  It was tad bit longer in the length and was super comfortable.  I love mixing the pattern with this chartreuse floral scarf from the Gap.

And for a super casual but pulled together look, I love it with this black puffy vest.  (I've had this thing for years.  It's from Walmart and it has hood that zips on and off. I'm so glad I hung on to it.)

I brought this dress with me on my most recent trip to see the grand kids.  I managed to talk Rosalyn into taking a few pics with while she was wearing her outfit I bought her for her birthday.  She's a little fashionista in the making for sure.

4.  The next dress was this shirt dress.  And again, I totally wasn't interested in this one when I pulled it out the box.  But once I tried it on, I really liked it. was a super good price.  I loved it with this burgundy sweater that I kept from my 15th fix.

And here it is in cartoon form!  The sweetest Katie Muncie surprised me with a portrait.  Ain't it cute?!  Go check out her talented self here.  She makes the best family portraits.  I'm thinking it would make the sweetest Valentines Day happy.

5.  The last piece was this funky shift dress.  And when I say funky, that's a good thing.  Funky is my jam.  This felt very 60ish and I loved the color combo.

Then I got wild and crazy and paired with with navy tights and wedges.  Now it was screaming 60's and I was liking it even more.   (despite the look on my face.  I was going for sultry/contemplative/mysterious look but it looks more like I'm wanting to say, "Stand still. I vaunt to crush you" Any Cats and Dogs fans out there? No? Ok. Well this is a little embarrassing.)
Anyways, I love the dress.

I loved it with the burgundy sweater too.

Which by the way....that burgundy sweater has become my winter go-to.
Along with these Noonday cow horn hoop earrings.  Which I lost last week.  I am still in mourning.  I wore those babies all the time.  Almost every day.  So sad.  
Back to the sweater though, I love that I have built a wardrobe through Stitchfix.
Not just individual pieces but things that I often wear together.

What's some of your go to pieces this winter?  Do you have that one sweater that you keep finding yourself throwing on with everything?  Spill the beans please.

And of course, if y'all are interesting in having your own stylist and getting a box full of goodness delivered to your door, you can click the pic below.  Or email me with any questions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's good to remember

Please tell me y'all have the app called Time Hop.  It is by far my favorite.  It "goes back in time" and shows you anything you posted on social media in the past seven years on that exact day.  There is seldom a day that goes by where me or one of my girls does not group text each other a link or pic from our Time Hop.  It is so fun and such a great reminder of God's faithfulness.  I even find myself checking it to help me remember stuff. (Like birthdays!) And did I mention it's free? just can't go wrong.

Anyways, when today's Time Hop goodness popped up it put a really big smile on my face.  It showed a link to a blog post that I had posted three years ago today.

The post was prompted by a text that was sent to me on that exact day one year earlier. (Four years ago today)

Ha!  This is how we found out about our little Nate Dog. In a text. lol.  Excuse the poor grammar in my response back to her.  I was kinda in a-oh my gosh-I'm so excited- this can't be real kind of way.  At the time she sent that text, Rosalyn was 2 yrs old and Julia Rose was 6 months old.

Here is the link to that post.  You really MUST read it in order for the rest of what I'm about to say to make sense.  It's short and sweet...I  promise.  But for those who won't go click over, here's an excerpt from the post...

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.2 Corinthians 9:8
 First off, God is able. Stop right there. That truth alone is enough. period.But there's more!  God's grace IS sufficient for ALL things....The big stuff of life, the little everyday things of life and everything in-between.And it's not only sufficient.. It's abundantly sufficient! His grace at work in our lives produces an abundance of whatever is needed for the task at hand. 
Elizabeth needed patience. She needed to be able to trust what God was doing with her family.She needed to let go of control and let God have control.
And He has done that in and through her.Sure, she still has moments of being worn out physically and emotionally.
But, I witnessed the Lord graciously equip her with what she needs for this season of her life."

Wow.  So much has happened since I wrote those words.  Chris resigned as a youth pastor to enroll full time in seminary.  They moved 10 hours away from all their family.   Chris's laundry business has also expanded which keeps him super busy.  Rosalyn has started Kindergarten.  Julia Rose has broken her leg and arm three times. Elizabeth has turned her love for essential oils into her own home business and Chris went on staff as an intern at their church while he still takes seminary classes online. And they've moved two more times in the midst of all of this.

And then there is this... a text I got earlier this year from Elizabeth when she and I were planning a surprise birthday party for my mom, Lydia and Julia Rose who are all the middle children.  "Middles"

Yes, I found out about two of my grandchildren through a text message.  lol.  I love it. Of course this was followed by a loud squeal from me, then me telling her daddy, then him praising Jesus, and then a phone call to hear her voice.  And then lots of excited giggling from me and lots of weary sighs from Elizabeth.

You see, among lots of other surprises that has taken place in the last three years, Nate didn't turn out as "laid back" as we thought he was.  lol.  He is a hand full at times. And loves to "test the boundaries" his parents have established for him.  To say he keeps them busy is an understatement.

As I write this, Elizabeth is nearing the end of her pregnancy.  She only has about 4 more weeks, give or take and she is feeling it.  She stays tired but oh my goodness, she is beautiful.

These kids are so pumped up to meet their little sister.  I can't wait to watch them take on this new adventure as the new family dynamics change upon her arrival.  (Getting Rosalyn to school across town on time with a new baby is gonna be fun for sure. Especially when that first born likes to be ON TIME no matter what.)

Yep there has been a lot of things that have changed since I wrote that first blog post.  Lots of unexpected challenges for sure.
But this Truth remains.  It never changes.

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

It was true then and it is true now. 
I know Chris and Elizabeth have lots of things they will face that will seem impossible as they enter into being a family of six.  I know they at times have questioned what God is up to with entrusting them with four children to raise and nurture.  I know at times they are scared to death they are just messing them up.... I know this because it's the same fears that every parent has had at one time or another. 

But what I also know, and God has proven to me in my own life, and I've watched Him prove it to Chris and Elizabeth in theirs,  is that God is able.  And His grace is sufficient.

I'm praying these two walk and live in this promise in the days and months and years ahead...
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

I absolutely cannot wait to meet the next little human that these two have made together.
God is so great! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dressember Earring Sale

**An update is at the bottom this post. 
It never ceases to amaze me how God not only provides but how creatively He provides.  It's very seldom in the way we would take care of business and it's always a thousand times better than anything we could come up with.  

I shared with y'all here why I decided to join the Dressember movement and what it was all about.  If you follow me on instagram or Facebook, then you've seen me posting a picture of myself everyday in a dress. (well almost everyday.  I've had a few all day pajama fests too).    

We are halfway through and I'm not gonna lie, I've had more than one day that I really wanted to throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  But then I think about why I'm doing it and I'm ashamed at myself when there are women and children who are stuck and trapped in a life of human trafficking. The statistics that have been shared by Dressember and so many of the women who are standing with me to spread awareness are startling to say the least.  I am so proud to be a part of something bigger than me and actively doing something to bring change.

But back to our creative God who provides....we are halfway through the month of December and I am a little over halfway to my $500 goal I set for myself to raise.  Then I get a message from a dear woman who I have never met who wanted to donate her creative resources and her precious time that it will take her to make them.  She has generously agreed to make 11 pairs of earrings and 100% of the profits will go straight to my Dressember Campaign!!  She is even covering the cost of shipping them to each of you.  

I am so overwhelmed by her kindness and willingness to do this smack in the middle of December. You see,  April is a busy mom herself.  She has a beautiful family that is unique and full of God's grace.  Several years ago when her four children were old enough that she and her husband could take a trip alone, it was on that very getaway trip that God revealed to them to become foster five years later they have five more kids!   I love that.

How this will work
I was going to auction these off on Instagram but it just happens that I am on a trip getting to visit my grand kids who live 12 hours away from us.  So instead of being stuck to my phone for quite a huge chunk of my day when my time is so limited with them,  I decided to post the sale here.  

  •  I have listed the suggested retail price.  You may purchase each pair by making a minimum donation of the suggested retail price.  If you would like to donate more, you totally can!  But don't feel like you have to.  Every single donation is a blessing.

  • Just leave your Paypal address in the comments below with the specific earrings you would like to purchase according to how they are numbered and the amount of donation you will be making next to each pair .   

  •  I will send the invoices asap once I have a free moment with the grandkids.  Please pay them within 24 hrs. 

**Feel free to leave a back up paypal address if someone snagged the earrings you wanted.  I will send an invoice to the person next in line if the original buyer doesn't pay her invoice within 24 hours of me sending it.

Once all the invoices are paid, I will make one donation directly to my dressember campaign under the name Earring Sale

These cannot be guaranteed delivery by Christmas.  Thank you for understanding.  

OK!  Here we go!

1.  $15   SOLD **invoice paid These hang about 2.5 inches, are a verdi gris over bronze finish and are very light-weight.

2.  $10 SOLD **invoice paid These earrings are a vintage bronze finish, hang almost 1.5 inches and are the sweetest little birds! 

3.  $12 SOLD  **invoice paid These earrings go so great with so many outfits!  They hang  2.25 inches, have vintage bronze finish metal and a disc of turquoise and are very light-weight.  They are fun earrings that actually show up when you have your hair down!

4. $15 SOLD  **invoice paid  These are a new favorite!  The finish is a vintage copper and there is a freshwater pearl charm to finish them off.  Very light-weight earrings and they hang about 2.5 inches long.

5.  $10 SOLD **invoice paid  Hope earrings.  These are delicate earrings with 'hope' inscribed down the vintage bronze plate and finished off with a tiny bird and crystal bead charm.  They are almost 2 inches long.

6.  $10 SOLD ** invoice paid These earrings are a vintage bronze teardrop with a copper and blue glass bead dangle and are about 2 inches long.

7.  $15 SOLD **invoice paidThese are some fun earrings!  They have verdi gris discs hanging from vintage bronze finish change so they have great movement.  They are about 2.5 inches long and are so light-weight, you will not know you even have earrings on!

8.  $12 SOLD **invoice paid This pair of earrings is very simple and delicate with just a freshwater pearl charm on vintage bronze metal hooks.  Great for any occasion!  They are about 1.75 inches long.

9.  $10 SOLD **invoice paid  Very delicate teardrop shape of a vine of leaves and flowers in a vintage bronze finish.  They are about 1.75 inches long and are great for everyday wear!

10.  $15  SOLD **invoice paid Vintage bronze finish with a freshwater pearl charm.  They are about 2.5 inches long and are super comfortable to wear!

11. $20 SOLD **invoice paid These are my all time favorites because they are a little out of the box and fun!!  I make them free hand with a copper finish wire so no two are exactly alike.  They are about 2 - 2.5 inches long and are very easy-wearing earrings. 
 (These are my favorites too ~stephanie)

Thank y'all SO much for your generosity and for standing with me in the fight against human trafficking.  Thank YOU April for being so giving of yourself and the resources God has blessed you with.  

If you missed out on the earrings you had your eye on but would still like to make a donation by sponsoring me directly on my Dressember page, just click here.  

Y'all rock big time! xoxo 

UPDATE:  Together we raised a total of $200 from this sale!
WOW!  I am no only $40 away from my goal.  Thank each and every one of you SO much!  And April, you are such a blessing. Thank you for sharing your talent with us all.

I will post the payment to my Dressember  campaign page as soon as we get home from this trip.  Dressember doesn't offer paypal as a form of payment and I will have to use my paypal visa debit card which I didn't bring with me.  It will be posted by this weekend.  I can't wait! xxoo


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My first Shabby Apple dress

Have y'all heard of Shabby Apple?  I've been drooling over their dresses for a while now.  I get their updates and newsletters delivered to my inbox.  I follow them on Instagram.  I ooh and ahh over their clothes.  And I waste way too much time perusing their website.  I  absolutely love their retro feel saturated with timeless femininity.

So imagine my surprise and major delight when they contacted me to see if I would like to review one of their dresses!  Well, after I quit squealing and jumping up and down in my desk chair,  I composed myself and re-read the email just to make sure I was reading it correctly.   I was.  And they wanted me to pick out a few of my favorites and then they would select one for me from my list!  Well, that was the most fun and the hardest thing all rolled up in one.   They have so many things I loved. Everything they have is timeless and beautiful.  But I had to be selective and choose what I thought would be flattering on me  and my body type.  I narrowed it down to three and hit send and waited with baited breath!

 THIS is what they sent me and I couldn't be more pleased.

Not only is it extremely well made but it is one of the most comfortable dresses I've ever worn.
To be a slightly fitted dress in some areas, it doesn't constrict me anywhere.  I literally could wear it all day.

Their dresses are a little more than what I normally spend on myself but after actually wearing one,  I'm ready to pick out several. I think their clothes would be an investment to my wardrobe and worth paying a little extra for. They are cut and designed to flatter a woman's figure and keep femininity alive and well. 

I feel pretty in it.  
I feel confident in it.

This is my first Shabby Apple dress but it is definitely not going to be my last.
I've already got my eye on this.  And oh my goodness… this.

How about you?  Are you already a Shabby Apple fan?
Do you have any of their pieces?
Tell me… I want to know!

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Favorite Party of the Year

   I posted a pic on Instagram Friday about my annual Christmas party that I host each year.  I promised a blog post with details because so many of you were intrigued.  Well, here it is.  I morphed together several blog posts over the years so you could read lots of examples of some of the gifts that have been given.  The very first post I wrote about it three years ago explains the origin of the party and how it came about for those who wanted to know.  This year's party is at the end of the post.

Several ladies have already let me know they have started hosting these parties too.  That blesses my heart SO MUCH!  I love seeing God's people giving Him glory for what He's done and is doing!

Y'all come on in and welcome to my favorite party of the year!
Where we give gifts that tell our story and bring Him glory!

**Repost from Three years ago**

Y'all know I love a party!
If you know me personally or been following my blog for any amount of time, then you know we throw parties around here for just about anything. I don't know if it's my Louisiana roots or what...but I don't need much of an excuse to whoooop it up big time!

But this past Tuesday, I hosted my favorite party.  I look forward to it all year!
I call it my "Keepin Jesus the Reason for the Season" Party.

The Lord birthed it in my heart many years ago when my husband was pastoring our first church. I was working in a friends boutique a couple days of week to help her during the holiday season. Her store was a-maz-ing. It was one of the very first of its kind and it was filled from floor to ceiling with quirky, trendy, one of a kind, amazing GORGEOUSNESS!!  I mean everything in there sparkled and glittered  and it all screamed.."you know you want gotta have know you can't live without me" in every corner you turned in this shop!

Well, don't get me wrong...I don't think there is a thing wrong with sparkly, pretty things....but as I was surrounded by it..saturated with it..  seeing the hunger of the people each day wanting MORE and spending SO much money to get it...well the Lord began to work in my heart that year about reminding me of getting back to the basics of Christmas...
back to the TRUTH of Christmas...

** I didn't share when I first wrote this post, that part of what inspired me was a particular customer who had come into the store on a regular basis and would spend money like water on decorations and gifts.  She had come in one day and was wanting a gift for a Christmas party where they would be exchanging Dirty Santa gifts….you know…where you can steal a gift from another person.  Well she said she wanted to get THE gift that everyone would want to steal.  She told me she had to have the best and didn't care what she spent on it…to just  make sure it was to die for.  Well….that resonated in my heart and just burdened me.  I still think about her 13 years later.

So... I threw my first "Keepin Jesus the Reason for the Season Party" that year.
I invited all the ladies and asked them to bring a simple gift that represented their walk with the Lord during the year...something that would reflect what He was doing in their lives and how He was at work in their hearts.   Well, let me tell you...that night rocked my world!!  
What a blessing to hear testimony after testimony of what the Lord had been doing!

As the ladies came in with their gifts, I would put a sticker with a number on it and put it under the tree.  After we ate and fellowshipped awhile, I  have each lady draw a number from a bag (one number for however many gifts were brought).  The lady who drew #1 would then open it and then the lady who had brought that gift would then share the meaning behind it and why she chose it.   We do this until each gift has been opened and all the ladies have shared.

The creativity of the ladies was incredible!  
One of my best friends, who is like a tenacious little bulldog when it comes to her boldness for the Lord, …well, she brought a turtle pin one year and it represented how the Lord was teaching her how important consistency was in her be slow and steady like the tortoise and not to be super fast and burn out while serving Him. 
 Consistency…. to finish her race WELL.
I now can't see a turtle and not think of her and that spiritual nugget of wisdom!

I could go on and on with examples of the creativity over the years but it would take forever, so I am gonna take you to my party...

 This was from last year but I have it sitting out and I love and treasure it.
It was from Ms Pat.. she shared that she wanted to desire more and more of pant for Him as the deer pants at the water brooks as Psalm 42 says.

She made it herself and I love the vintagey feel of it.
It's a such a great reminder to me as to what I am desiring most...

 This year, I received this...

 A planner from Janet. She told us she almost brought a plate to represent that how "full her plate" is but went with the planner cuz the Lord is teaching her about prioritizing her time...only saying yes to things HE has designed for her...learning its OK to say no if she hasn't heard from Him on a matter...and desiring to fill her calender with things that have eternal value.

Well, the Lord in His sovereignty made sure the planner AND the meaning behind it ended up with me!  As I dive into this new year..I want the same thing! To quit wasting time on what He hasn't ordained for me and do what will last throughout eternity!!
(Plus, I have a wedding to daughter has chosen APRIL.
 Yes I know that is only 4 months. sigh.)

It was a wonderful night. A refreshing night.
We shed tears...lots of them.
We laughed....really hard.
And we cried some more.
We ended the night in prayer, thanking Him for transforming our lives and that He would choose to come to this world so many years ago and humble Himself so that we can experience the freedom and joy of salvation in Him.
  WOWZA! How incredible.

As I said,  this is THE party of the year for me.  
I love hearing how great our God is and how He is at work. 
 Seeing the ladies growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord  is the best gift ever.
(2 Peter 3:18)

****Two years Ago***
  This gift that someone brought just blessed me so much. It represented the freedom from years and years of unforgivness she had harbored in her heart toward someone and how when she repented of that, through God's grace in her life, she felt like a bird being set free from a cage!   I loved it!  And it had been such a blessing seeing the Lord restore this relationship!  

This was the gift I received last year and it was one of my all time faves.  I'm not gonna lie, when I opened it I was like, huh?  A silver walnut?  
But then Kate began to share the meaning behind it and oh my goodness.  I loved it.

She and her husband were newly married last year and she shared that celebrating family traditions had become so important to her. She was wanting to start some new traditions with her husband but also carry on some old traditions she had growing up.   Her granddad always gave them a painted walnut each year.  She said the first year he did it, she was six years old and she was so upset because it was a measly little walnut.  But little did she know what was inside…  

A $100 dollar bill!
He wanted to teach them the value of not judging everything by what you can only see on the outside.  And that it's what is on the inside that counts.  This wise old grandpa kept up the tradition until he passed away in January of 2006.  

Kate didn't have a $100 dollar bill inside hers of course but the impact was the same.
Such a great lesson.
And such a great tradition.

***Last Year's Party***

 We were few in number but God's presence was so strong.
This was my gift that I brought. I forgot to take a picture of it before I wrapped it.

 But what was inside was a mirror
The kind of mirror that magnifies stuff 10 times. The kind that exposes all the blemishes and nothing is hidden from sight when you look into it. It can startle you when you see yourself that up close.  And that's exactly what God did recently  to me using an indecent in my life.  It cause due to look closer at my hear and it really exposed some gross and yucky stuff and attitudes that I needed to see  for what they really were… sin.  It made me think of Hebrews 4:12-13… "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and joints  and marrow, and it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."   I am so thankful He doesn't leave me to myself but in His mercy He exposes my sin and pours grace into my life and changes me to be more like Him.  Hallelujah!   (I also had it wrapped in a dish towel because part of what He revealed to me is that I need to be more of a hands on_get dirty washing the feet of the disciples _ kind of servant.) 

And last thing before I go…
This is the gift I received!
A mini flashlight!

Sweet Mama Rob who brought it is one of the greatest examples of a servant I know! She is always doing for others. Always.  She is always asking how she can help…she doesn't wait until you come to her.  I want to be more like her.   I pray I am even half as active as she is when I am 78 years old like her.

What blessed me is the verse that prompted her to choose a flashlight as her gift.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5 :16
Aghh.. So perfect.  It couldn't have been more perfectly chosen for me.
I so want to make Him known with all that I do.

And the sweet thing about these fellowships…year after year…Each lady goes home with a gift that ministers to her heart and has a tangible reminder of the message every time she looks at or uses the gift.  It's sooo good.  We always close out the night in prayer thanking the Lord for the work He is doing in our lives  with great anticipation of the year ahead.

Now on to this year's party!

We had a grand time as usual.  One thing I loved about this year is seeing the spiritual growth in the ladies in the things they shared.  I am so blessed to have them in my life and to learn from them as they walk through the things the Lord has brought them through this past year.

Again, I don't have time to share all of what was brought but here are a few of them.

One of the ladies, Janet, is a teacher on a college campus.  She loves her students and is just as concerned about their lives outside of her classroom as she is inside her classroom.  But even the best of teachers often need reminders to help them stay focused on what a good teacher is all about.   She chose this necklace made from a rock.  But it wasn't just any rock.
An actual friend of hers finds regular old rocks that the average eye would just pass over and leave lying in the yard.  But she knows that once these "ugly" rocks are cared for and polished with the right tools they can become something beautiful so she and her granddaughter keep their eyes open and are searching all the time for rocks they can transform. Well Janet said the Lord really challenged her this past year to be intentional about her studentsto not see them at face value but to look past their "issues" and see the person.  To see the person they can become with the right encouragement, and people in their life "polishing" them.   I LOVE that.  So awesome.

One lady brought a box sugar because she had gone through some really difficult times this year but the Lord was still just as good (sweet) in those rough times as He was in the good times.  And that He truly is getting sweeter and sweeter to her the longer she serves Him with each passing year.    So good.  So true.

Another brought a card full of cash.  She has had an extremely difficult year this year.  She battled cancer along with some other tough situations and she has blessed me more than she will ever know watching her trust the Lord through it all.  She shared that she has learned that Jesus is the ONLY place that she can find her hope from.  Not even her family, who she loves so fiercely, can be her source for hope. So she brought money and said to whoever ended up with it to just know that whatever they spend it on…groceries, a gift, clothes, whatever…that the satisfaction it brings only lasts for a moment.   Jesus is the only lasting satisfaction we can truly have.    Sooooo good.  It had an impact.  

Our sweet Carolyn brought prayer journals as her gift which was so fitting because she is such a prayer warrior.  The gift she received was a hoot though!  Here she is opening it.  Carolyn is a die hard Ole Miss fan.  Her gift was a MSU Bulldog bath bomb.  It turns your water maroon and once it completely dissolves, it leaves a little cowbell in the tub with you.  She was convinced it was gonna turn into "Ole Miss" though. lol.  The funniest is when she opened it she didn't know what it was so Boo (sitting next to her) had to explain that it was a bath bomb.  If you could have seen Carolyn's face and reaction… She said "A BOMB?!?!"   lol.  Bless her heart.  We died laughing.
And if you're wondering how a bath bomb has a spiritual application, Boo said it represented peace and calming and tranquility. She is a newlywed this year and explained that is exactly what being married to Brandon, her husband,  has brought into her life….peace.  I have loved watching them settle so well into married life this year.  So good.

For times sake I'll wrap it up with my gift and what I brought…
Only part of my gift could fit in this box.

The real gift was hanging on my door as they walked in.
This wreath that I made.

I wanted something to represent all of the doors the Lord has opened for me to share His story this past year.  It has been a whirlwind full of surprises.  He has had me speak at conferences, retreats, virtual retreats via video (which was totally new for me).  He's opened doors for me to share His goodness and truth to people from all over the world who have emailed me and I've been able to share bits and pieces of my story with them.  And He's connected my heart with thousands of people through social media.  I never went looking for that platform of influence but it is a door He has chosen to open for me and I don't take that lightly.

So I wanted something to represent all these doors.  The fact that is was a fresh wreath was good too.  I always want to have a fresh work that the Lord is doing in my life that I can give away and share with others.  I'm thankful for those ebeneezers in my past that I can go back to a recall His faithfulness but I don' t want to rely on that as my only source of what I can share with others.  I want to be seeking Him daily and gaining fresh insights to give away and bless others.

The other part of my gift that was in the box were these socks.
They represent "HOW" I should walk through the doors God opens for me.  They are fun and outlandish and a little over the top….exactly how I want to be as I share what He has done for me. The world is watching and I want them to see joy…even during the not so great circumstances in my life. 
 I want them to see me having fun.  Because living for Jesus is fun.  His people are fun.  And I want to be outlandish for Him. I want to be brave and do hard things and not be afraid to stand out looking different for His sake.  I want to walk through each door with a twinkle in my eye and a skip in my step that makes the world around me want what I have.  Cuz what I have is good y'all.

The funny thing is God likes to make sure we are walking the walk that we talk.
I shared this about opened doors on Friday.  
Nick started feeling sick that night and began to run fever and get all achy.
He never left the couch Saturday.  But he just knew he'd feel better by Sunday.

Long story short.  He didn't feel better by Sunday.  And EMCC, our local community college, was playing for the National Football Championship in their division and a lot of our church is on staff there.  So they were all out of town at the game…along with our worship leader and many of the men who lead.  SO…that left me.  Nick asked if I would give a testimony and  share about the Christmas party and the meanings behind the gifts with our congregation.  So I was gonna have to teach my ladies Sunday school class, then lead worship and give a testimony afterwords…pretty much have the entire service on my shoulders.  

I thought about what I just shared a couple of nights before and knew I had to walk through this unexpected open door with great confidence in Him.  So, I rallied some of my friends and family to be lifting me up in prayer, then I threw on my most outlandish pair of tights, grabbed my bible and headed out the door.

God was faithful.  I survived and He was glorified.  But I definitely have a renewed appreciation for my husband and all pastors and worship leaders everywhere!

Back to the party before I go….if you have any questions just send me an email.  I'd love for you to host one wherever the Lord has you  planted.  If you do, please let me know.  I'd love to hear all about it.

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