Sam’s Club, God, and an Angel from FSU

God is always at work, and he loves us deeply.  That hit home for me more than ever yesterday.  And, at Sam’s Club, of all places!

My husband, Rob, and I went there to get two tires replaced on our well-traveled (translation:  worn out!) van.  We’re in Pensacola right now.  Rob’s brother, Doug, had a surfing accident on Saturday.  He is in critical condition, and the outlook is not good.

Our reason for visiting Pensacola was definitely not one we would have chosen, and the last thing we wanted to be focusing on was vehicle maintenance.  Life happens, though – all those events and circumstances and situations we don’t always want or expect to happen – and, so our aimless tour of Sam’s began.  

One aisle.  Two aisles.  Slowly walking.  Not talking.  Just thinking and praying. Eventually, we found our way to the clothing section.  Neither of us needed any clothes but, somehow, holding up shirts, folding them, and then putting them back on the table seemed like a good way to pass the time.

“So, is that FSU or Alabama?”, a voice said.  The man was pointing at the red stadium seat Rob was holding.  “We’re going to say it’s Alabama!”, I answered.  The man winced.  His son was a student at FSU.  Our daughter is a student at Alabama.  I know.  I know.  It may be shocking, but we were all able to look past the rivalry (no heated exchange or fist fights next to the Nautica shirt table…), and the pleasantries continued.

FSU and Bama play in Atlanta next weekend.  That’s where we live.  “Are you going to the game?”.  Laughter.  Last time we checked, we hadn’t won the lottery!  Even if tickets were still available, do you know how much they’d cost?!  Um.  Just.  No.

“So, why are you in Pensacola?”  Long pause.  I could see Rob was searching for a hint of crazy town in this guy (I was, too!), but he seemed nice enough.  Rob took a deep breath, let out a huge sigh, and then told him about Doug.

The man listened intently.  He expressed his sadness and concern.  Like Doug, he too, was 59.  He, too, enjoyed surfing.  He, too, was battling his own unexpected and unwanted challenges with two separate cancer diagnoses and surgeries.  Yes.  Life happens – all those events and circumstances and situations we don’t always want or expect to happen.

“This reminds me of that verse in James…”

“Consider it pure joy!”, I interrupted him.

The man smiled.  Rob and I have been studying that verse with our Sunday morning Bible study class.  

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.        James 1:2-4 (NIV)

And, that’s when I knew.  This wasn’t just your everyday-in-the-clothing-section-of-Sam’s conversation. This was God letting us know – by way of a 59-year-old FSU fan dressed in a 30A hat, t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, no less! – that He is ALWAYS working.

God is ALWAYS with us.  In the good times.  In the bad times.  We may not understand the WHY behind what is happening, but he wants us to trust that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay.  No matter what happens, Doug is going to be okay.

Life Lessons From a Fourth of July Binge

So, I have a confession.  When several of my friends started posting on Facebook last Fall about a new television show called, “This Is Us”, I dismissed it.  “How good could it really be?”, I thought.  And, “Who has TIME to watch a TV series?!”.

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Follow up posts about how each episode touched them even more than the next didn’t even make me want to tune in the next week.  I mean, come on – life is hard enough as it is. Who in their right mind would want to watch a televised version of their real life?! Television and movies are for escape, not for reliving what you’ve already experienced or are currently living.

Fast forward to Fourth of July 2017.  At our house, holidays and special occasions have pretty much become an inside joke.  If a holiday or major milestone is coming up, it’s a safe bet around here that Rob (my husband and Dad to our two teen kids) will be traveling for work. (It’s also a safe bet that something MAJOR will go wrong with the house, the car, or one of us will be hospitalized, but that’s a different story for a different day…).

Now, please don’t misunderstand.  That’s not a knock against Rob, at all.  The kids and I know he would be here if he could.  We are VERY thankful for him and his job but also understand it – our LIFE – is, well, simply…different from the life of pretty much everyone we know.

To sum it up, when you have a spouse who travels frequently, it’s hard to make lifelong friends, and meaningful plans, and have a set schedule, and live a “normal” life. The constant travel and the moving to a different city every few years – basically starting over again every 2 to 5 years, or so – can really take its toll.

I have to admit, for a control freak, planner like me, that’s been a MAJOR adjustment.  I wish I could report that, after 21 years of marriage, we’ve figured it all out and it’s always smooth sailing, now.  But, the fact of the matter is, we haven’t.  And, it isn’t.  And, even though it can be incredibly stressful at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

So, I guess that’s why I’ve (surprisingly!) found myself binge watching “This Is Us” for the past two days.  To sum it up,  “This Is Us” is raw and real and it helps you put your life into perspective and remember what it is all really about, even in the midst of all the “crazy”.  It has also reminded me personally that, while touching base with friends and family on Facebook or via text is wonderful, it’s absolutely NO SUBSTITUTE for connecting with them in real life, even though we may live in different states.  I miss really connecting with the people who matter most to me.  It’s the experiences we share that we will always remember – the one-on-one, in person time spent together.  I want more of that! 

Now, in the spirit of “being real”, I have to confess that my friends and family can sometimes bug the crap out of me (I’m sure I have the same effect on them!)!  Still, I love them very much and I treasure the time I have with them.  Isn’t it ironic that those very real-life, not-so-perfect, frustrating-yet-stimulating interactions are what ultimately make life fun, and happy, and bearable, and memorable?  And, isn’t that why we’re all here in the first place – to learn how to love God and love each other?  Investing in people – time spent with people – that’s what we should be focusing on.

So, thank you to my friends who posted about “This Is Us” last Fall.  I’m sorry it took me so long to catch on…  And,  “well done!” to the writers of a wonderful series.  Thank you for waking me up and reminding me that trying to forget about and avoid pain, discomfort, and difficult memories by isolating myself and not truly connecting with others can only result in a mediocre life – one that’s not really being lived.  And, that it is through life’s MANY messes – those unplanned, unexpected moments – that we truly connect with one another and experience true joy and true living, and ultimately learn how to live life abundantly.

 

Bama Bound Basket

It’s official!  Our daughter is BAMA Bound!  She’ll be a third generation University of Alabama student, so I’m not sure who’s more excited – her, her Grandfather, or me!

Of course, it just wouldn’t do for her new crimson and white yard art to set all alone beside the mailbox.  If you haven’t already guessed, we Southern women tend to have somewhat of a compulsion to fill in empty spaces with all kinds of FLUFF like flowers and bows…

Yes – I admit.  I was tempted to put a houndstooth bow on the basket, but figured that’d be a bit too much.  Maybe even pretentious?  And, we all know what folks say about being pretentious…an ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure.

Roll Tide, y’all!

Essential Oil Spotlight: Wild Orange

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Wild Orange oil is one of dōTERRA’s most popular oils—and with good reason! Not only does Wild Orange oil have a variety of uses, but its invigorating, energizing aroma is hard to resist.

One of my favorite ways to use Wild Orange is in the diffuser. If you need a lift (or, maybe even a PUSH…), this Citrus Slush diffuser recipe will get you moving (Wild Orange is one of the main oils in doTERRA’s Citrus Bliss blend.)!

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Another energizing combo is Wild Orange and Peppermint.  Simply add a couple of drops of each oil to the palm of your hand, rub your palms together, cup your hands over your nose, and inhale.  Better than a cup of coffee (and I LOVE coffee, so that’s saying a lot!)!

Combining a few drops of Wild Orange oil with water in a glass spray bottle also makes a wonderful all-purpose spray, that both cleans AND smells good! As a citrus oil, Wild Orange has cleansing properties that make it useful for purifying surfaces like countertops and tables throughout your home.

Another fun way to use Wild Orange essential oil is in cooking!  I’ve heard rave reviews about this Orange Blossom Panna Cotta with Orange Gelee!

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It only takes 20 minutes to make, and serves 8.  I pinned it to my recipe board on Pinterest.  You know, along with the 50 bajillion other fabulous recipes I haven’t quite gotten around to making yet!  There is always hope, though.  And, progress, not perfection is my motto.  Simply the fact that I pinned it shows that I’m making progress, right?!

To learn more about dōTERRA orange oil, visit the Wild Orange product information page on dōterra.com.

GIVEAWAY:  I’d love to hear how you enjoy using Wild Orange essential oil!  Comment to be entered into a drawing for a free 5mL bottle of Wild Orange. Drawing will be held on Friday, April 21.

When You Need a Little “Happy”

So, it’s Monday.  And, it’s raining.  Of course that brings to mind a song!

Anyway, it’s no secret that I love plants and I love essential oils (which come from plants).  I started using essential oils a little over two years ago to help with anxious thoughts and sad feelings.

Like most folks, I’ve been dealing with lots of BIG stuff for about two decades (but, who’s counting, right?!):

  • infertility issues,
  • miscarriage,
  • difficult pregnancies (ever heard of PUPPP??!!  Let’s just say it’s NOT pleasant or pretty…),
  • false diagnosis of neuroblastoma for our 8 month old son (thankfully, it turned out to be a calcified adrenal gland!),
  • building three houses (okay, we didn’t actually frame them in or lay the bricks, but we did supervise and do some of the inside finishing ourselves),
  • moving five times to four different cities in two different states (Why do I hear my military friends laughing at this?  I’m sure they’re thinking “ONLY five times?!  Puh-lease!”.),
  • Mother diagnosed with breast cancer (she’s doing great now, by the way!),
  • being a single parent much of the time, because my husband’s job requires a TON of travel,
  • daughter diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 8,
  • death of three Grandparents, three Uncles, one Aunt, and my only Brother,
  • Father’s open heart surgery

I’m sure there’s more I’m blocking out not remembering, but you get the picture.

I’m sharing this not to compare hardships.  We ALL are going through, or will go through, difficult times in our lives.  In fact, I’m sure many of you are looking at my list and thinking “That’s it?!  You think that’s hard?!  Let me tell you what’s HARD!”.  I get that.  We all have a different capacity for dealing with tragedy, and I wish none of us had to go through any hard times or sadness.

Still, if you struggle with anxious thoughts and sad feelings like I do, you probably understand that it doesn’t take too many “difficult times” or “BIG stuff” happening in rapid succession for life to begin to seem as if everyday tragedy is the norm.  Embracing the joyful times becomes more and more difficult.  Being hopeful can almost be scary (even when you are a Christian, and you know, know, KNOW that God has SO “got all of this” and there is no need to worry!)!

Yes – medications can help.  Admittedly, I’ve tried several that were prescribed by physicians…  Still, as I learn more about health and wellness and study how our bodies work, I’m beginning to believe that simply medicating a person with a blanket prescription drug is not the answer.  We are all too different.  Our experiences – our bodies – are unique. God made us that way!  One size definitely does not fit all.

That being said, there’s no doubt a prescription medication might alleviate certain symptoms of a condition or disease.  Still, one has to wonder if that medication is actually fixing the problem or simply masking symptoms of the root cause?

Here’s a question:  What if the answer to healing those who regularly struggle with sad and anxious feelings (as well as numerous other conditions) might actually be found through a more holistic, natural approach – analyzing the overall health of an individual and determining the role circumstances unique to them (stress/environment), physical health (diet, exercise, sleep), and spiritual health (prayer/meditation) might play in their overall health and well-being?

I know.  BIG question.  And, way too much to go into here…  Still, it’s absolutely fascinating, don’t you think?  Definitely something that merits serious consideration and exploration.

Now, back to essential oils…I’ve personally found essential oils to be a wonderful tool for managing anxious thoughts and sad feelings.  When I started using oils, I only diffused them.  Now, I use them topically and internally, as well.

I love, love, love researching the benefits of different oils and creating new blends!  In fact, a blend that has been very helpful to me lately is one I call my “Happy, Happy, Happy!” blend:  6 drops Lime, 5 drops Elevation: Joyful Blend, and 4 drops Spearmint.  I have to say, it smells A-MAZ-ING!  I dare you not to feel happy when you diffuse it!  I hope it will help lift your spirits as much as it has lifted mine!

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Running on Empty

I’m having one of “those” days again.  A day where I just want to stay in bed, under the covers – not having to be somewhere, not having to do something for someone else, not having to talk to anyone or listen to anyone, not having to email or Facebook message or text or send a card to anyone, not having to comb my hair or get dressed or put on makeup, not having to worry about what’s for dinner, not having to worry if the house is clean or if the laundry is done (not to mention the 50 million things that need to be done outside!). Basically, not having to worry about anything or anyone.

A devotional I read this morning by Rick Warren confirmed my suspected diagnosis.  Yep – it’s official.  My “love tank” is empty and in desperate need of being refueled!  It’s amazing how often this happens!  You would think by now I would have learned to spot the signs.  It’s one of the main reasons why I started using essential oils!  Why can’t I seem to get to the “filling station” when my tank is only HALF empty – not go and go and go, push and push and push, until I’m running on FUMES?!  I mean – come on!  Logical people know when to pull over and fill back up.  Right?!

The thing is, though, when it comes to love and caring about others, we oftentimes aren’t logical.  And, that’s where we get into trouble.  I think it’s safe to say we all love and care about our friends and families. We each want to help others and make a difference in their lives and in the world.  And, yet, it’s exactly because of our attempt to help everyone – to do it ALL through our own strength – that we find ourselves running on empty.  This weariness – this exhaustion – is exactly the flashing “low fuel” light we need to remind us that it’s time to slow down, BE STILL, and KNOW that GOD has so “got” all of this!  We don’t need to live life at a frantic pace – trying to mark 100 tasks off our daily list.  We don’t have to do it all or even help everyone we wish we could help.  We don’t need to feel overwhelmed and discouraged.  As long as we are focused on God, we can rest in knowing that He is in charge and He will show us what is essential.  ONLY God can refuel our hearts, so we can fully and freely show love to others.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today – if your “love tank” needs refueling – I encourage you to take some time to be still, talk with God, and read His Word.  You might even find diffusing essential oils during this quiet time to be both uplifting and to help with focus. Here’s one of my favorite uplifting blends.  I’ve found I enjoy alternating between using Peppermint/Breathe and Wild Orange/Citrus Bliss.  Never underestimate the benefit of a house that smells like “happy”!   🙂  Wishing you comfort and joy!

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THYME for Potatoes: Gardening Experiments with Essential Oils

 

When it comes to experimenting in the garden, I’m all in!  In fact, last Spring, when potato planting time rolled around here in Georgia, I didn’t have any sulfur on hand (if you’ve never planted potatoes, sulfur is commonly used to coat the seed potatoes before planting in order to protect them from pests and rotting).  Rather than running to the store to buy some sulfur, though, I decided to see what I had on hand.  That’s when the lights started flashing over my essential oil stash (Not really! But, how cool would that have been?!). Our family uses Thyme and Melaleuca essential oils regularly for all sorts of things.  thyme-15mlmelaleuca-tea-tree-15mlThese two oils are primarily known for properties that deter pests and prevent fungal infections – exactly the kind of protection seed potatoes need!  Plus, they come directly from plants, so they are all natural and chemical free (a MUST if you are trying to reduce your toxic load – something I wish ALL of us were conscious of and committed to, but that’s a different topic for a different day…).

Anyway, with half the problem solved by essential oils, I then needed to determine the best way to apply the oils to the seed potatoes.  Sulfur is powdery, and I had lots of all-purpose flour on hand!  So, I decided to go with flour.  I added 8-10 drops each of Thyme and Melaleuca to the flour mixture, stirred well, and coated the cut up seed potato pieces prior to planting them.  Happily, the flour/essential oil mixture worked just fine!  We enjoyed a wonderful harvest of potatoes, and some even made their way to Alabama for a low country boil!  Here’s a pic of last year’s potato plants:  2016potatoes

I hope to get pictures of the potatoes we harvest this year so I can share them with you!  I just planted the first seed potatoes of the season a 2017potatoesfew days ago.  And, yes, I’m trying another experiment. Instead of using flour, I decided to go with baking soda (again, adding the Thyme and Melaleuca essential oils). I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, click here for more tips on gardening with essential oils. And, enjoy this 1970 classic from Joni Mitchell.  It’s not totally random, if you listen to the lyrics!  Definitely something to think about…  Wishing you health and happiness!