Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hospitality Book Giveaway

Hi all! Sorry I have been MIA, it's been a little crazy around here the past two weeks, but good to know that God is in charge no matter what. Will try to catch you up over the next few days/weeks, but until then, I wanted to share a great giveaway with you.

My sweet cyber-friend Rebecca is hosting a giveaway on her blog today!

If you would like an opportunity to win "Given to Hospitality...Cottage or Mansion" by Judy Ann Lewis, then please go visit Rebecca over at Rebecca's Hearth and Home.

There are several ways to increase your entries, so be sure to read through her post thoroughly! While you're there, tell her that Tamara said, "hi!"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Be Aware - A Mr. Monday Post

It's Monday and you know what that means--time to celebrate our fabulous misters.

I just have to say, this past week or two, Darling Groom has once more gone above and beyond, what we thought was an illness turned out to be some dental issues and he helped take care of everything so I could concentrate on dealing with this. He's such a ...


If you've read my blog or know us personally, then you know that my husband is all about safety. He has asked me to use this Mr. Monday to share some safety tips with you.

First, however, he wants me to encourage you to not be bound by a spirit of fear. If you find yourself falling into this trap, remember that God is always with you and that perfect love casts out fear. This post is not designed to make you afraid, rather to give you a few tools to be more aware. He has such a heart for women's safety (I did mention he has a wife, daughter, mother, two sisters, seven step-sisters, aunts, cousins, countless nieces, etc., right? LOL).

Darling Groom's thoughts are that God did not create us to live in fear, but neither did He create us to be oblivious. Everything is in God's control, no matter what, but that does not give us a pass to stop looking out for ourselves or our family. If you knew a snow storm was coming, you would most likely stock up and make sure your family had what it needed for shelter, food and warmth during that time. You trust in God to keep you safe, but you also use the knowledge He provides to care for your loved ones. The same thought-process applies here.

While you are out and about this season (actually, all year) these are some things Darling Groom wants you to keep in mind:

~ If at all possible, shop during daylight hours.

~ He realizes that it does get dark earlier now, so if you do go out after nightfall try to shop in groups of 3 or more.

~ At night, park underneath parking lot lights.

~ No matter what time of day, try to park next to a cart well, that way you only have one side of your car exposed. If you are by yourself, try to make sure the driver's side is the one next to the cart well.

~ Wear an over-the-shoulder hip purse (one that crosses your body and allows the purse to be put in front, by belly or hip). A fanny pack could work too, IF you put your clip under your clothing (not exposed for someone to loosen). Better yet, if you could find a small coin purse and put in your front pocket with everything you need. Do not use wristlet purses (they can break when pulled on), shoulder bags (they can be yanked off or ripped at straps) or anything that can tempt others to reach inside or grab. Also do not put your purse in the cart! Make sure it's on you at all times.

~ Only carry the cash, credit/debit cards you intend to use. Leave the rest at home. Also, make a note of what you carry with you.

~ When using cash, be aware of your surroundings and do not put it all in one lump. You do not want to be flashing cash around. Even if it's a bit, when it's in a bundle it can appear to be a lot from a distance.

~ Take care of everything before you leave the store. Make sure your money, receipts and phone are put away, your keys are in hand and walk out with purpose.

Darling Groom says, "Do not be distracted!"

I cannot tell you how often we will be out shopping or at dinner and we see women coming out of stores/restaurants and they are so preoccupied with their phone conversations or their texts. His heart just breaks because they are busy talking, digging in their purses and not paying attention to their surroundings. It's a sad state that we need to be so aware, but the truth remains that we do.

He put it to me this way...if there were a thief and two women came out of a store at the same time that thief had a choice. One woman had her keys in her hand, looked all around to be aware of her surroundings, head up. Not fearful, but purposeful. The other woman had her phone between shoulder and ear, was pushing her cart with one hand while the other was digging through the purse she was looking into. Now, back to the thief, which lady do you think makes an easier target to steal from?

~ When you get to your car, lock your purse in your car before you begin to put your things in the trunk, or put it in the trunk before you begin loading. Less temptation.

~ If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, leave as quickly as possible and do not worry about hurting anyone's feelings.

But most importantly, Darling Groom wanted me to remind you all to stay safe so you can enjoy your family during this (and every) time of the year.


...and that is why I just thank the Lord that He gave us such a wonderful provider and protector in Darling Groom!

For more information about Mr. Monday,
please visit my friend Heather over at
Servant, Wife, Mother

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Question Friday

So, Pam over at Troop Petrie participates in a fun little Friday link-up (sponsored by My Little Life) and I've been reading her posts for it when she puts them up. Decided this week it might be fun to participate as well.

This week's questions (and my answers):

1) Do you have a go-to song that always puts you in a good mood? While the song changes with the seasons in my life, would definitely say YES! Right now, my go-to song is by Steven Curtis Chapman and is "Do Everything" (found on the album, Recreation). I can't help but be cheered by this bouncy little reminder of the command given to us in Colossians 3:23. When I remember that I'm serving God by wiping up spilled milk or picking up a dirty sock, the chore and my attitude suddenly don't seem so terrible! (You can find the video at the end of this post, if you'd like to hear it and cheer your Friday up!)

2) Are you a real-Christmas-tree kind of person or do you go with a "real" fake one? Real trees smell nice (when they are watered properly) but I cannot abide the pack of pine needles left behind and the time it takes to get them out of the carpet beneath. The fake tree we have now is getting very old and it is a huge thing (at base it is 5 feet across). I think I'm going to talk to hubby about replacing it with a Jesse Tree.

3) What are you thankful for? Oh wow, this one is a good one and it would take up too much space to list it all. If you check out my blog on Thursdays, I've been trying to list these things (22 items each week). But if I had to give a very short answer, my God and my family.

4) Which fashion fad from the past do you wish you could wear today? Oh, that would be easy--the dresses from Regency era (only without all the hassles of past undergarments or lack of them, lol). So much so that I did purchase a pattern from Sense & Sensibility patterns to make my own "updated" version of a day dress. That will be a winter project as I've never sewn a dress before.

5) Do you wait until the "low fuel" light comes on before you fill up the gas tank? Um, no. We have a very good and very trusted mechanic. The cars we drove before, well, he told us that their gauges were weird and that we could actually do more damage to the car by letting it get under a fourth of a tank (wear and tear on engine). Sfter years of driving those cars, now we automatically just fill it up when it gets to the half-way mark but if we forget, a fourth of a tank is our lowest limit.

Thanks to My Little Life for such fun questions this week. Be sure to visit her site to find more fun answers (and link-ups!) for Five Question Friday.

And for those of you who wanted to see the video, here ya go! Enjoy. :)

Have a fabulous Friday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh, Wow! Thank You!!!

Oh wow! Just have some wonderful news I have to share with you all. Linda over at My Work-At-Home Plan awarded this blog with it's first ever blog award!

If you have never visited Linda's blog, I encourage you to do so! She has all kinds of information on her blog from helpful tips to money-saving offers to lessons on life. :) It's always fun to see what she's up to. My most recent favorite post about being "debbie downer" really prompted me to put on my big girl panties and move forward with good cheer and faith in God! Thanks for that, Linda.

Anyway, after reading up on her blog about the Liebster Award, I'd like to share it with you. "Liebster" is a German word meaning friend, love or dearest. This award is shared and given to up-and-coming blogs that have less than 200 followers.

Here's how this award works:

~ 1 ~ When you receive this award, copy and paste it to your blog.

~ 2 ~ Thank the blogging friend who awarded you and make sure you link back to their blog so others can check out their fabulous blog too.

~ 3 ~ Choose your five (5) up-and-coming blog picks then go share the love by commenting on their blog.

~ 4 ~ Hope and encourage that the recipients will spread the love to other up and coming blogs! (Be sure to check their blogs for the list to check out other great blogs!)

That's all there is to it.

For my part, here are some of my favorite up and coming clogs.I sure wish I could list a bunch more (you can find some to the right of this blog). To check out these blogs, simply click on the name of the blog!

In no particular order:

Servant, Wife, Mother A Godly blog dedicated to helping women fulfill the commandments of God while living out their lives as servants, wives and mothers

Sandy's Cape Cod Originals ~ Blog about Sandy, her family and all her darling little crochet patterns

Renewing Housewives ~ Godly encouragement for women to use and share in their every day lives

Rebecca's Hearth & Home A wonderful blog complete with recipes, time-saving tips and all kinds of homemaking goodness as the Lord prompts her to post

Soni's Front Porch ~ A slice of life blog by one of the sweetest, most precious women I know. Her faith is intermingled with every day life as well as a healthy sampling of creativity

Thanks again, Linda! I really appreciate you and all you do.


PS...This list was so difficult to come up with, there are a lot of wonderful blogs out there that didn't make the cut. Some blogs were not in the running because I could not discover if they fit the criteria of 200 or less followers. One of those blogs in particular belongs to a dear friend of mine, and is Walk With Me As I Follow The Fish . Love ya, Kim!

Operation Shoe Box - Boxes due this week!

I am not sure if any of your are familiar with this charity, but it is a good one to reach the world's children in a way you might not ever be able to again.

If you want more information you can visit the site at Operation Christmas Child. Please note, this week is the week they are collecting shoe boxes!! I believe you can find drop-off locations for your area through their website, if not, google for groups in your area.

Basically, you create a gift of little things in a shoebox for a child who would not otherwise receive a gift. The wonderful thing is that these gifts are prayed over before you pack them away.

One group that is often neglected is older children (10+ years in age). Jessica over at Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility has really had her heart given over to the girls in this age group and in fulfilling the commitments to being a Titus 2 Woman and also to care for those children, she has created an awesome FREE downloadable pdf file to give these girls lessons in crochet. Knowing that they do not speak English, the instructions are in photo form.

If you aren't a crocheter or knitter, then you might find it easier to go to a "box" store for yarn rather than a yarn store. A lot of crafting stores have yarn on sale for the craft projects that are feverishly going on. For example, Michaels has Vanna's Choice yarn for $2.99 per skein. You could use the 40% off coupon to purchase some hooks. Hobby Lobby also has yarn and a 40% off coupon this week. You could check other stores like local hobby stores, Joann's etc and if you are a knitter/crocheter be sure to support your local yarn shoppe!

Add some other items like a sweet (no chocolate--don't want it to melt over yarn) and maybe a cute notebook and pencil or even personal care items.

Then pray that these items will find the girl they belong to and that God will use these things to greatly bless her!

If you want to know more about the printable instructions, please visit Muthering Heights and follow Jessica's directions and while you are there take a few moments to read her blog, I think you'll find it entertaining and instructional. She's a gem with a passion for helping others.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Has Become of Us? ~ A Mr. Monday Post

My friend over at Servant, Wife, Mother posed a very prayer-provoking question for Mr. Monday...How can we stop squelching, and start nurturing?

If you haven't read her post, I encourage you to click the link above (the name of blog) or her blog button on the right. Be warned, it might make you say "ouch" before you go to God to ask for guidance to help encourage your mister and not squelch his natural tendencies.

As for our, I cannot tell you how much has changed, some for the good and some for the necessary or even not-so-good. While Darling Groom and I have always tried to encourage each other in pursuits and our tastes, we sometimes fall short. It is something we do continue to strive to accommodate and help each other with. Thankfully, he's very patient with me, lol.

Some of the good things that have been changed since we've been married is how much my husband has grown. Darling Groom was already quite a man when we married, but I've been so blessed to watch him flourish. He's become a third-degree black belt (working on fourth), graduated college, received promotions at work, has learned that he loves to teach, learned how to handle some minor plumbing issues, and so much more. I think one of the biggest and best changes in his life is that he has come to know God in a more personal way and it shows in his behavior and his lifestyle. He has really matured in his walk with God and he has taken it to heart to lead our family in a more dedicated way. That has been the biggest blessing our family could receive.

Can you tell I'm putting off the bad? It's hard to think that I've squelched some things in him or his lifestyle, but I know I have.

Heather mentioned her husband liked Coca Cola themed items and now they have been replaced by sturdier dishes that can handle the hands of a child. I know Darling Groom has endured a similar fate. He doesn't necessarily care about themed dishes, but when he was a bachelor, his eating habits and lifestyle were simple, neat and organized. Now, it's pretty wild and while it adds variety and color to his life I think that sometimes he does miss the singular simplicity in that. I have been working hard to re-simplify our life and I think that he appreciates that. He's patient in that it takes a bit.

Darling Groom is a fitness fiend and some of his workouts have been put off because dinner wasn't scheduled to accommodate or to help one of the children with a history question. He never complains, just puts off his own needs to help us out. He's given up some activities to spend more time with us. He says it's his knees or some other excuse to help us and I do appreciate him being home more, but I wonder if he's doing it for us or him.

There is so much more to our lifestyle that has changed and I will be praying to God to show me areas that don't have to be squelched for him, but rather that we can come together and work out a solution that will blend our tastes and schedules to more better "become one".

Again, if you haven't read Heather's post, I encourage you to head on over there now and take a peek. Then really ask God to help you find ways to show your husband that his desires, though maybe squelched, do matter to you and make an effort to do something about at least one of those things. :) I know that's what I'll be doing!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

So, over at Becoming A Strong Woman of God they are participating in the Thankful Thursday challenge to list 22 things each week (on Thursday, of course, lol) for which they are thankful for. You can read more about it by clicking the name of the blog. (Please note, it may be on hiatus for November's 30 Days to Being Thankful series.)

I am a little behind in my blogging and I apologize. It has been a most interesting week, and good and bad I am thankful to God for the lessons I've learned and the things that have touched my heart.

Without further ado, here are some blessings I am thankful for this week.

~ 45 ~ To all those who touched my life
~ 46 ~ Forgiveness--given and received
~ 47 ~ Humility
~ 48 ~ Refinement
~ 49 ~ God's touch to heal
~ 50 ~ Bible studies and Godly men and women to lead them
~ 51 ~ Moving forward
~ 52 ~ Prayers for blessing
~ 53 ~ Redemption
~ 54 ~ Changed hearts and lives
~ 55 ~ Ability to laugh through tears
~ 56 ~ That God is not finished with me yet
~ 57 ~ Supportive and praying family and friends
~ 58 ~ Clean drinking water
~ 59 ~ Rest and naps when it's cold and you are ill
~ 60 ~ Soft tissues during a cold
~ 61 ~ Hot and cold packs to help sinus issues
~ 62 ~ My husband's cousin, Mike, who touched so many lives
~ 63 ~ Memories of good times
~ 64 ~ Hot chocolate
~ 65 ~ Vacations to warmer climes
~ 66 ~ Grandparents

You may have noticed a theme and I just have to say that the past few weeks, this song has been on my heart, so sit back and enjoy and know that there is someone who loves us no matter what and died to forgive us and gives us grace to grow in that and to change who we were!

Much love, hugs & prayers,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Offense Breeds Bitter Fruit ~ A Pray for Me Monday Post

JAMES 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and
pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

PSALMS 116:2 "Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live" (NKJV)

Join me as I blog with Pray for Me Mondays hosted by Tiffany at Home Grown Families and Pamela over at Troop Petrie. Basically, it works like this: both blogs are hosting this blog link-up and will post about relevant topics and may perhaps have a prayer request and will pray together with their readers, coming together in agreement to go before the Throne of Grace.

Typically I would post about the topic of the week yet this week I hope you can bear with me and pray with me. It is with a very heavy heart that I come to you tonight. I had almost completely skipped posting this week but I selfishly need prayer and am reaching out to you, my cyber sisters.

The past two weeks have been filled with circumstances that seem designed to either pull me down into hurt and pain or to push my buttons, pulling me down into another kind of muck. The one thing they all have in common seem to be that they all deal with offense.

John Bevere calls offense the bait of satan (book by same name). And it is true. Offense begins with a hurt--most often simply perceived, not even real--and escalates from there. It leads to anger, depression, bitterness, pain, gossip, slander, spitefulness, and so much more wickedness. We know that God tells us what we do bears fruit. When we let offense take hold in our lives even when we think we are over it, it can remain buried until the fruit comes to bear. It can hit us out of the blue when we least expect it, manifesting itself in ways designed to increase it's fruit of hurt and pain.

One of the circumstances that has been bearing fruit lately has roots that go back several years. It was over a misunderstanding of all things. Some erroneous things were believed and though it took some time, the Lord let them come to light and thankfully one of the most important relationships in my life was healed. The others are not quite the same as they were, but there is hope on some levels.

And the Lord, faithful as ever, has used these circumstances to open my eyes to some truths and to understand some of His ways. He has shown me that the people we associate with do make a difference in our lives. I'm as guilty as anyone of "backing my friend" and of gossip and slander in my life. I know what it's like to take on another's offense in the name of caring for them. But are we called to do that? We are called to bear one another's burdens but are we called to carry their offense?


When we do this, we can allow ourselves to sin if we are not careful. We can take up anger and hate against the person who did us no wrong and sometimes it could even be a person we've never met. When we do this we fall into the danger of slandering and gossiping about that person to "make our friend feel good." But the truth is we can become mischief makers and pot stirrers and neither is acceptable before our God. To my shame, I have done that. I have also been on the receiving end. Neither way is edifying or uplifting or gives glory to God.

This time I intentionally purposed to do this His way and not the way I wanted to (which never ended well anyway). I went to trusted friends and asked them for prayer. I briefly explained the situation, sticking to the facts as closely as I could. And they all prayed. Not one of those precious women slandered or gossiped about the other parties involved. Not one said anything poor against another. It was such an uplifting and encouraging experience and did not stir the anger in my heart but rather the Lord showed me that this is the importance of our friends and how He designed it. We are created to Biblically correct and uplift and encourage one another. When we do it God's way and not ours the experience is almost beyond understanding. The pain and anger melted under their prayers and loving kindness.

Anyway, these past two weeks (most especially tonight) I learned just how deep those roots of offense can grow and branch it's bitter fruit out into the lives of others who were not involved and even to those who do not even know you. Actions made in the heat of offense can grow buried beneath the surface for years, quietly waiting to spring from the cold ground and bear it's fruit, reaching out to feed and mingle with the offense of others. The only way to nip it and rip it completely out of our lives is to hand it over to God. Not always an easy thing for our flesh to do but to overcome and come out with grace, we must remember to extend the grace given to us.

Please, I beg of you, pray for me as I continue to deal with the actions of offense from years ago. If it's God's will, I pray the relationships be mended at least enough to part on good words. Pray that the truth comes to light in His way and not the way my flesh wants it to. And please, if you have offense in your life, pray for God's touch. It is the only way to keep it's ugly, bitter fruit from bearing in your life and will help you plant His loving, patient and peaceful vines in your life which will bear such fruit that can and will also touch so many other lives outside of your own in such a wonderful way you will be amazed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Be Still And Know I am God ~ Day 1 of 30 Days to Being Thankful Challenge

Today's Challenge is to:
Dig deep into your trials or storms and find the blessings that God has in disguise just for you. Write them down and look to them often when you feel like He is not there. Seek Him, Trust Him and know that He has already been through what we have been through and has His best for us.
There have been many instances in my life when God has taken things that had the outward appearance of trouble or trials and turned them into blessings in disguise. In fact, one could say that 2008 was a year of such instances.

I can still remember the night that I turned into a screaming harridan for no reason whatsoever. I had been fine, then, BAM! Major mood swing. I can recall it with crystal clarity, that standing there, almost like I was trapped inside my head yelling at this stranger to be quiet and stop harrassing my family. When it was over, I stood there, aghast. What was happening to me? After apologizing to my precious family and crying on my husband's shoulder I remember telling him that we couldn't go through the next 15-20 years like this (it was like peri-menopause).

You've heard the expression, be careful what you wish for? Well...

The very next evening I ended up in the ER with abdomen pain. After waiting what seemed like forever to see a nurse they gave me a pain pill and sent me for tests (CAT scans and a BUNCH of ultrasounds). It was not long at all that a very concerned doctor rushed into the room. I had a massive tumor that had killed my ovary (hence the menopausal-like symptoms) and they were concerned that it might be cancerous. After consulting with an oncologist, I was admitted with surgery scheduled for the following Monday. To make a long story short (I know, too late), the tumor had grown even more from that night the ultrasounds were taken. I had to have a total radical hysterectomy and ended up being cut from navel to bone. Test results came back and praise God, it wasn't cancer.

That could be enough to seem like a trial, but the true trial came afterwards, during the healing process. You know what I'm talking about. When you are well enough to hate sitting still and feeling like you should be taking care of your family, not the other way around. This hit me at about the third week.

I remember crying to God about why this happened to me? Why had the tumor come up out of nowhere and grown so quickly? Cried because I wasn't healing as fast as I thought I should (though really, it was right on schedule) and I wasn't able to do more than shuffle back and forth when I could get up and walk. Yet, sitting there, I felt fine.

It was during one of those episodes, late at night when everyone had settled in and our home was filled with silence that I heard an answer.

"Be Still And Know I am God."

Remembering that verse from my childhood, I quickly looked it up (well, as quickly as I could shuffle to the computer). Psalm 46:10 (KJV) "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

I learned that while He had been trying to get my attention, I had been too busy, running around like a crazy woman trying to do it all on my own, not wanting to "bother" anyone--even God--with the things on my heart. It was only then, when I could do nothing but sit and be still that I could get to hear what He was trying to tell me. From that moment on, it was easier to sit still and heal while also drawing near to Him and receiving the love and forgiveness and instruction from Him through prayer and His Word.

2008 may have not been a great year for us on the outside, but had I not had to heal from the drastic surgery, I would never had found some measure of peace I hadn't realized was missing. I would never have found out what God had been laying on my heart. It changed me dramatically. Yes, sometimes I forget and sometimes I will even ignore it, but it's not long before my soul remembers that precious time.
I had known this before, but God used what could have been a serious trial to teach me a deeper understanding of Him and His love.

I encourage you, no matter what your situation, to be still and know God. The rewards are way more than we could ever deserve and you will never view "blessings in disguise" the same way again.

For more posts about today's topic, visit
Becoming a Strong Woman of God