Thursday, October 2, 2014

Flying Solo

Have you ever let your fear of something control you? No matter how small?
For example, I have always wanted to get a pixie haircut. They always look so cute on everyone I see. But I have yet to do it because I'm afraid I'm the one it will look terrible on.
Obviously, that is a very small fear. And not a big deal. As humans, it's our nature to doubt, question, and be afraid of things that are unknown because that's what a sinful world looks like. But as a Christian, we have a rock that we can stand on and break those fears down. Whether as small as getting a haircut or as big as moving your family across the country, Jesus is and always will be our strength. Says so right here:

 "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7

Today the fear that is messing with me is that in two days I'm trying something for the first time alone. And all I can do is think about all the things that could go wrong.

2 days and counting. 

I have 2 more days until I fly solo for the first time at a vendor fair.

Last year, I shared my experience with being a vendor at my first vendor fair in Just a Girl and a Card Table, merely months after learning how to crochet in the first place.

It really was a great experience that was largely due to the amazing people that helped me out in many ways. 

This summer, I was having fun making all kinds of new things: blankets, baby items, coffee cozies. You would be amazed at the things you can make by crocheting. Seriously.

All the fun baby things I made this summer. So...much....cuteness....
I knew that Spoon River Drive was coming, but I was scared of doing it alone so I just pushed it out of my mind. For quite a while, I used the excuse of not wanting to spend the money on it. But in reality, I was just super nervous to do it alone. 

I would have to get my own tent (which I don't have), tables (which I don't have), displays (which I don't have) you see a pattern here? I pretty much am still the Girl with a Card Table, just different merchandise this time. 

And all the doubts came flooding in. What if no one buys anything? What if I spend the money to do it and don't make it back? What if I look like a silly little girl with a card table???

Some of my half done projects that have been laying around for a while....
Finally, push came to shove and I decided to suck it up and do it.
That was three-ish weeks ago.
Slowly, things have fallen into place. Once again, my amazing friends come to the rescue. My friend, Heather, is lending me her canopy. I'm going to borrow tables from my church. My mom and husband found some display stuff at their jobs that I can borrow. And then I went to Dollar Tree and just had to get creative. 

In the meantime, I have been crocheting my fingers to little nubs. I'm probably going to end up with arthritis or carpal tunnel...but hey, no pain no gain, right???

I had to lay everything out on my bed today, to try and collect my sanity.
For the last couple weeks, I have been very excited about this. My mom is going to come hang with me (and help with the kids) both weekends and my sister (ex-in-law....? "Sister" is all that matters) is going to come up and help out one day, too. 

But I have to admit, with it being two days away...the doubts are rearing their ugly heads. What if it downpours like last year and everything gets wet? What if the wind blows the canopy over and all the stuff off the table? What if....what if no one likes my stuff???

What if??

Thankfully, I believe in Jesus. And it's moments like these, when my brain is bring ridiculous and worrisome over trivial things, that I turn to Him.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." Matthew 6:34

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

Good grief, I'm ridiculous.
After all the things that I have been through in the last year and half of my life...I'm going to spend my time worrying about the weather? And if people will like my things? 

Time to put my big girl pants on, take hold of my God's steady hand, and commit this weekend and next to Him.

All packed up and ready to go. We'll see what happens!
If it rains? Oh well. If the tent blows over? I'll just pray it doesn't break because it's not mine. And if I sit there for four days and no one buys a thing? Then so be it. I'll make different stuff next time.

God has given me a gift in the ability to crochet and the fact that I enjoy it so. It may not be a gift that is going to win over hearts for the Lord, but it's a gift nonetheless and I'm not going to let fear stop me from using it. 

So today I will take a deep breath, switch a load of laundry, and get back to work organizing the chaos that is my living room right now. I will make what I can make, and just trust that it will be good enough. And instead of concentrating on all the things that could go wrong, I'm going to focus on all the things that could go right. Like having a lot of fun! Oh, and definitely getting to eat the BBQ Pork Nachos from Hickr'y Stick. And maybe a lemonade shake-up. 

Wish me luck! I look forward to giving you an account of this year's experience!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oven-roasted Sausage and Potatoes

Ok, Sausage Fans. 

Here it is. The recipe. 

I would love to start this post off with how the weather is cooling off and it's starting to feel like fall. How I have my fall decorations out and the fall-scented candles burning. How I've made pumpkin dip and homemade applesauce from our trip to the orchard....'s kind of hard to do when you live in the Midwest and it's 84 degrees on September 29! I had the AIR on yesterday! WHAT?!?
I digress.

I posted a picture of this recipe on my Facebook page when I made it for the first time. I had many people contact me about the recipe and comment on how good it looked. 
I would say this is one of the most popular recipes I've found so far.
 Right behind the Fiesta Salad.

My husband has been home for almost two months now and I have slowly gotten back into the swing of cooking throughout the week. Maybe just a night or two of noodles and cheese or frozen pizza. However, I have caught a break to some degree. Now that harvest has started, my husband doesn't come home until later, so I don't feel quite as much pressure to whip up a fabulous dinner. 

In all honesty, Chad is not hard to please. I think I could make grilled cheese and he'd still love it. He's very good at complimenting my cooking. I've trained him well...

This meal is extremely filling and equally delicious. I have made it twice now, the second time because my husband specifically requested it. The kids love it. I love it. 
Win for Mom!

The other nice thing about this recipe is that it's easy to throw together and easy to clean up.

Ok, let's do this. 

Here's what you need:

Sausage - any kind (I use kielbasa - you can get it at Aldi!), potatoes (we like red, but you can use any kind), sweet peppers, onion, banana peppers, olive oil, rosemary, and creole seasoning.

First preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil and make sure the cookie sheet has a decent sized lip on it. (This helps with the easy clean-up.)

Time to slice and dice.
Slice the sausage into bite-sized slices. You can do it the fancy way (using a "bias"cut - or a diagonal cut) or just slice it. Either way, it all tastes the same and looks the same coming out. (ha!)
Then cut your potatoes into 1/2" chunks. I leave the skin on. 
Next, slice up the onion and peppers into long skinny strips. 

Nicely done. Moving on. 

Place all the ingredients on the cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over them and then use your hands to toss them and get everything nicely coated. Come on! Time to get your hands dirty People

Next, sprinkle some salt and pepper and the spices (if you choose to use them) and then place the slices of banana peppers on top.


Time to pop that sucker in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. 

I feel like Homer Simpson looking at a donut...

So the first time I made this, I used the foil. The second time I forgot and just sprayed the sheet. I HIGHLY recommend using the foil. It makes clean-up much easier and I felt like the potatoes cooked better. They didn't get as burnt around the edges using the foil.

I also chose to use the seasoning. The first time...waaaaaaay too much rosemary. Ack. So I backed off a little with that the second time. And as for the creole seasoning....well, if you are anything like you are saying "What the heck is that?". I had to google it. It's basically just a mish-mosh of a bunch of different seasonings that you can use on pretty much anything: meat, potatoes, vegetables, soups, etc. 
Like many things, you can buy it or make it yourself. I just made it because that was easier and here is the recipe I used - Creole Seasoning.

P.S. this recipe makes A LOT of seasoning, so make some room in your spice cabinet...or maybe cut the recipe in half. In retrospect...I wish I had done that. 

Well, there it is. One of the best dinners I have come across to date. I hope you all enjoy it as much as my family does. 
And feel free to get creative! Try different seasonings or vegetables and let me know if you find another great combination!

Oven Roasted Sausage and Potatoes
Original Recipe from

  • 1 bell pepper - sliced
  • 1lb package of sausage - whatever kind you prefer
  • 4-5 potatoes - whatever kind you prefer
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small jar banana peppers
  • 1/2-1 onion, sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary (optional)
  • 1 tsp creole seasoning (optional) 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line large cookie sheet with tin foil. Make sure to use a sheet with a "lip".
Slice sausage into thin slices.
Cut potatoes into 1/2" chunks.
Slice peppers and onion into long strips.
Place all ingredients on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with your hands to coat everything.
Add salt and pepper and seasoning, if you are using it.
Place banana peppers on top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recipe Roundup #1: Spaghetti Sauce, Cucumbers and Onions, and Zuchinni Bake

Over the last few weeks, I've been blessed by several friends giving me produce from their gardens. At one point I had zucchini, squash, red onions, tomatoes, green beans, corn, and blueberries. I decided to freeze the blueberries for later, but all the rest I found some recipes for.

So this post is a roundup of a few of the recipes I found to use up the veggies. I didn't alter any of them in any way so I thought it would be fun to just put them all in one place and add links to the original recipe. This way, I can still add in my experiences with making all of this. 
Ready? Here we go.

1. Crock-pot Spaghetti Sauce
Original Recipe: Iowa Girl Eats

 This sauce is pretty darn amazing.
Iowa Girl got it right!
The only thing required outside of the crock pot is to brown ground hamburger (or turkey).
When I made this, I chopped up my onion and cooked it with the meat. Our family can handle onions if they are cooked. The only other thing I did differently than Iowa Girl is I did not use a can of crushed tomatoes. I had a TON of fresh ones, so I chopped those up in to decent sized chunks and threw them in the crock pot. I still used the tomato sauce and paste, but I think the fresh tomatoes gave it a fresher taste. I wish I could tell you how many tomatoes I used...but I just eyeballed it.

After browning the meat and onion, you throw everything in the crock pot and let it cook on low.
So easy!

My crock pot cooks fast, so I cooked it on low for 3-4 hours. The first time I made this, I made it as written. It made about half a crock pot, which was perfect for one meal. So the second time I made it, I doubled the recipe, which filled the crock pot, and then I split it into two freezer bags. I laid the bags flat on a cookie sheet and placed them in our deep freeze. Now I have two batches of sauce that just need to thaw for a spaghetti dinner.

This sauce truly is delicious. The meat literally melts in your mouth and the flavor is full and wonderful. My favorite part is probably the added butter. Who would have thought of that? I think it just adds a little something to it. If you freeze the sauce, don't add the butter yet. Add it when you are reheating the sauce in a sauce pan to be used for dinner. 
Great sauce and great freezer meal!

2. Cucumbers and Onions

Original Recipe: ??????

So, apparently this has been around for ages. But I was not a cucumber, nor an onion fan, as a child. In fact, I'm still working on it as an adult. I don't mind onions (cooked), but I'm still not a huge fan of cucumbers. 
We've been spending a lot of time at our friend's farm this summer, and I've been introduced to good old farm cookin'. I love how she just throws it all together out of thin air. So every time we've had dinner at the farm, I've been taking mental notes.
This recipe is something she ALWAYS has in the fridge, and when I found out my husband loved it, I decided to give it a try. It's pretty easy and I'll admit, it's pretty tasty, too. (I even ate the onions! Look Ma, I'm all growed up!)

All it is is cucumbers and onions in a vinegar-sugar-water mixture. 
That's it!
I'm sure the majority of you are reading this thinking "duh!". But I didn't know about it, so I was excited and I wanted to share it for anyone else that is sheltered like myself. 

To make it you mix equal parts vinegar, sugar and water. 
So if you use 1 cup of vinegar, then you use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar.
(Now, I never said this was a healthy recipe!)
You can eat it right away, but it's better to let them sit in the mixture for a few hours in the fridge so they can absorb the flavors and get nice and cold.

3. Sour Cream Cucumbers 
Original Recipe: Taste of Home 

Another quick cucumber and onion recipe if you are tired of the one above or, like me, just have a crap-ton of cucumbers to use up.
 It's very similar, but uses sour cream. In all honesty, I like the vinegar-sugar-water mixture better, but this one is still good. I wanted to share because everyone's palettes are different and some of you may really like this!
All you have to do for this recipe is whisk together the ingredients: sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Then toss the cucumbers and onions in the mixture and refrigerate for four hours. 
I will say this, these didn't make the BEST leftovers, so this might be a good recipe for a church picnic or family cookout.

On Pinterest, I saw a similar recipe to this one, but it uses dill. I LOVE dill, so I think I will give that one a try, too. I'll let you know if it's any good!

4. Zucchini-Squash Bake 

Original Recipe: Kalyn's Kitchen

I had zucchini coming out my EARS. My friend was giving some away, and she stood on my porch and handed me a zucchini that was, I'm not kidding, bigger than my cat. 
This was the perfect recipe to use up some of that zucchini. That one...gigantic...zucchini.

My husband was gone for work for about 10 months. The day he moved back home, I made a completely homemade-from-scratch dinner just for him. (No, I'm not bragging...this was the first time I cooked in....well, 10 months.)
I used the spaghetti sauce I shared above, made some homemade bread sticks (another farm recipe!), and found this zucchini bake to put with it. 
I was in such a tizzy trying to throw all of this homemade stuff together and time it for right when he got home, I didn't even think it take pictures of anything...until we sat down to eat. So the only picture I have of the bake is on my plate. And it didn't stay there long. 

I'm hungry just looking at this. He's been home a month now....I'm think it's time for round two. 
I'll share the breadstick recipe another day. Homemade, easy, and they almost taste like Olive Garden's breadsticks!
 Mmmmmm breadsticks.....
Focus, Evie.

For this recipe you need the veggies, some olive oil, basil (fresh or dried), thyme, garlic powder, and cheese. You can also throw in green onions if you like. I didn't have any in the fridge so I didn't use them, but I would definitely like to try it next time. 

Toss the veggies in the olive oil and spice mixture, spread in a greased baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for another 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
It went great with the spaghetti dinner and it made pretty good leftovers the next night. The webpage also has a printer friendly version, so it's really simple to print the recipe for your collection.

Well, that's it for now! I hope you like some of these! I made a few other recipes, but they either needed some modification or they were just so good they deserve their own post. So you'll see those pop up eventually. 

I've had a lot of fun find recipes to use up all these fresh veggies. Enough so that I plan to try a garden out next year. (This is big deal people. Green-thumb is NOT my middle name.)
Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY Front Porch Facelift

For the last year, I thought we were moving. So all of my long-term dreams for my house were put on hold. 


Three weeks ago my husband moved back home! And now that we are NOT moving (happy dance!), it took all of but 48 hours to start a project. As I was posting pictures of my painting projects on Instagram, my friend Heather teased me saying "Chad is home and it's PAINT ALL THE THINGS?!?"

Um, Heck yeah!

I finally painted my laundry room...

....painted my front door...
Sorry for the picture quality, I had to steal this off of my Instagram.

.....gave a couple things in my kitchen a spray paint face lift...

....and last but not least, I finally finished the front porch.

Last spring I was sick and tired of my ugly front porch. It's a three-seasons porch that had dark green indoor/outdoor carpet and dark wood paneling. 
It had to go.

I didn't get great "before" pictures because I wasn't really thinking about it. I was too excited to get started to think about making a nice looking blog post. So here are some of the ones I did get before and during the transformation.

See? Dark paneling. Blech. And a bulky shelf/coat hanger because we have no coat closet. Oh the joys of a 100-year-old house. :D

This is obviously when I started priming.

This is a dark photo, but it gets the point across. DARK. Dark and depressing. No thanks!

Once I got all the walls AND trim primed with two coats, I had Chad rip up the carpet. (JOY!!)

Carpet is gone and in the trash! Let the mama rejoice!

On to painting. After two coats of primer, I moved on to two coats of paint. White for the trim and a yellow called "Nectar" for the walls. Painting over dark paneled walls...not my favorite task.

I picked the yellow based off of my navy blue front door. The outside of our house is painted blue with white and navy blue as accent colors, so I wanted to keep the blue door. And while we are a Coastie family, I don't have any nautical decorations in my house. But I do like the yellow and navy combo so I went with it. 

Yellow is a tricky color in my opinion. You have to get just the right yellow. Too pale and it washes out, too bright and people have to get out their sunglasses. Well, boy did I find it! In case you didn't notice by the pictures above, this Nectar yellow is my new color crush. I used it in the laundry room and the inside of my front door. I'm in love!

Look at how pretty! So sunny and happy!

The last major step was putting in the floor. We got really lucky (as far as our checkbook goes) because around the same time we were doing this, my in-laws were remodeling their kitchen. So they graciously gave us the flooring from their kitchen. It was still in good shape and was almost exactly the amount we needed. Win!

Now that the hard part is done...time for a little trip to Pier One aaaaand...

BA-BAM. Summer sale at it's finest. 

This porch facelift turned out to be a huge blessing-in-disguise because just two short weeks after the it was finished, we endured a hardship. This porch became my "happy place". I sat here many days that summer trying to make peace with what we were going through and teaching myself to crochet. To this day, it is my go-to place for my morning coffee and devotional - minus the winter months of course. It is just such a warm and happy room now.

I had more plans for this space, but once the For Sale sign went in the yard I crossed those plans off. you know, we did NOT onward!

Both my girls will be in school this year and then we have a couple friends coming over after school as well, so I knew I needed to have a space for them to put all of their coats, backpacks and shoes. 

Oh, a Pinteresting we will go...

I found lots of options via Pinterest but I finally settled on making a coat rack wall. 

Remember this wall?


Some measuring, planning, and a trip to Menards wall was going up.
Have I ever mentioned that I love having a hubby that can do stuff like this??? I asked him to build me a wall...and he did. He is so cool!

Here it is with all the wood up.

I bought some coat hooks and planned to stagger them. I had him put a shelf up top, too, for decorations and/or lost items.

I also decided it would help the chaos if I designated each space for each child. We had some leftover wood so I found an easy way to make a wood sign without needing a Cricut or Silhouette machine (cuz those are too rich for my blood). I made a little sign with each child's name and placed it on their spot. I actually have a project started (yes, another one) using this method and when that is done, I'll post it on here.

Ready? Here's the finished product!

What do you think?? 

I'm totally in love! No more backpacks on the floor, shoes being thrown around, or lunchboxes getting lost. I'm still toying with the thought of putting a bench or two for the kids to sit on, but I might just buy a couple shoe rugs instead. I'll wait until the messy weather comes to make that decision.

As for my decorations, I got lucky there, too. Basically, I wandered around my house and found things that had no home and put them up there.
The wire baskets were used by my mom for the girls' Easter baskets this year. I put my gardening stuff in one and the other is empty for any future lost gloves or hats.
The "It Is Well" sign is one that I found at Hobby Lobby (With the 40% off coupon!) a few months ago. I bought it thinking it would go up in a rental house somewhere but had yet to find a home for it in this house.
The lanterns were a clearance purchase from Michael's last summer. I originally had them on the windowsills on the porch.
The "M" was made by Jilly a couple years ago at daycare and used to hang on the door.
 And then I just grabbed some random candles sitting around my house. It all got thrown together in a day, but I think it turned out pretty cute, and now all those things have a home!

The best part about all of this, from beginning to end, is that it didn't cost a ton of money. It was the cost of a few cans of paint, some wood, coat hooks, and my decorative stuff. Of course, we were lucky and didn't have the cost of the flooring, but we were prepared to pay for it. That would have been the most expensive part. It was more blood, sweat, and tears than it was money. Painting an entire room (walls and ALL woodwork) FOUR times is a lot. A LOT. 

So there you have it!
 My front porch facelift.

From this:

 To this:

Do you have any DIY facelift stories to share?
I'd love to hear them! We are staying in this house for awhile and there are plenty more things to do!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chicken and Salsa Skillet


Hey, I'm back! Where did I go? That's a great question, and when I have an answer for that, I'll let you know. 

The last year and half has been such a whirlwind for me and my family. Up and down...and down again...and down again...and now I am cautiously hopeful that we are on an upswing. 

I've composed a million blog posts in my head explaining the last year to all of you. And since all of those thoughts are still swirling in my head, I'm going to set them aside and just return to blogging with an awesome recipe to use up those over-flowing garden veggies. 

I do not have a garden. (Gasp!) I have never had a green thumb...most things I planted in the past died. And I don't have house plants because my darling cat eats them. Even the fake ones. Seriously, any silk flowers in my house are in wall-mounted vases. She WILL eat them. 

This year, we had our house for sale (part of the swirly, whirly, long story) and I decided to try planting flowers in the flower bed to spruce up the curb appeal. If they all died, oh well. 
Surprisingly, they lived!

 These pictures are from right after they were planted. Today, they are thriving!

After this small success, my hope is that next year we will try a vegetable garden. But until then, I will just continue raiding the gardens of all my friends.

This recipe is very easy to throw together and is pretty healthy. It's great for the nights that you work or have games to get to. (Because it's August...and we have to start thinking about school schedules...sigh...)

The ingredients are chicken, pasta, salsa, corn, green pepper, and cheese.

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. We use whole wheat pasta from Aldi that is less that $1/box.

Cut up boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and start cooking the chicken in the skillet with some olive oil for about 2 minutes. Stir in salsa - you can use any salsa. We are big fans of Wildtree Fiesta Salsa Mix, but today I made homemade salsa for the first time. It's marinating for 24 hours, so I can't tell you yet how it turned out...BUT if it's good, it will be posted ASAP. I'm overly excited about this salsa...

Next, stir in corn (canned, fresh or frozen) and chopped green peppers. Bring to a boil and then simmer on med-low heat for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn't burn. 

Drain the pasta and stir into chicken mixture.

Good grief, that looks amazing. In all honesty, I haven't made this in awhile. These pictures are from a few months ago...It just never made it to the blog. Just keepin' it real.
 I'm thinking this will be on the menu next week. 

Sprinkle cheese on top and cover to allow cheese to melt.

This night I tried out roasting green beans to go along with the meal. I just tossed some fresh green beans in olive oil, garlic salt and Parmesan and then roasted them in the oven. 

More honesty here...I have yet to master the art of roasting vegetables. It seems like it should be a pretty simple task compared to all the other ways to cook vegetables...but I just haven't been able to figure it out. Every time I've tried they turn out...well..let's just say... not awesome.
So if anyone would like to share the secret that I'm missing, please do!

There it is. An awesome chicken skillet and some so-so green beans. 

Thanks for sticking with me despite my year-long absence. 
You guys are the best!

Cheesy Chicken and Salsa Skillet
recipe from

  • 2 cups whole wheat penne pasta, cooked
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups salsa
  • 1 cup corn, frozen (or fresh/canned)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (we like colby jack)
Cook pasta as directed on box.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add chicken pieces. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in salsa, corn, and green peppers. Bring to a boil and then simmer on med-low heat for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. 

Drain pasta. Add to chicken mixture and stir. Sprinkle with cheese. Remove from heat and cover. Let sit until cheese is melted.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fighting My Fears and Finding Hope

{I had a blog post planned for today with a great soup recipe for these cold days. But as I began to type, my thoughts kept going in a different direction. It didn't take me long to figure out that God had a different plan for this post....I hope it touches someone.}

 Happy New Year! 
Oh that was two weeks ago?
With every new year comes new resolutions; Lose weight, eat better, exercise, read my Bible, stop hiding in the pantry eating donuts.....

Well, I'm sorry but I like donuts.

Do I need to do all the other things I listed? Oh yes...yes, yes, and yes. But instead of putting all kinds of pressure on myself to do those things that are really a struggle every day of my life, I'm needing a different kind of resolution this year. 

I don't know about you but I'm glad 2013 is over. That was an incredibly trying year for myself and my family. Now that we are 2 weeks into 2014, I'm beginning to have hope for the future again. Our trials are far from over, and there were quite a few months that I had really lost hope that things would ever get better. And while they have yet to really get "better", God is helping me find some hope again....slowly.

This was at the top of my Pinterest home page 15 minutes after finishing a devotion about hope.

What's that God? Yep. I heard you this time.

After I got the "hope" message, He sent me a message on trust.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3

When I am AFRAID.....that's what it is. Fear. The thing holding me back from being hopeful and trusting that God has it all under control is fear. I didn't realize this until our pastor had us write down the one thing holding us back from moving on to a better year. It was my fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of the consequences of those decisions, fear of failing....the list goes on.

But in the midst of the fear, I have been reminded in the last couple days that not only do I need to remain hopeful for the future, but I need to put my full trust in God to carry me through. 
Let me clarify. I'm not trusting that He will make my life perfect and wonderful; I am trusting that He will carry me through it. I have no idea what's ahead of me. In an instant everything I have could be gone. I could be gone. But what ever is in store for myself or my family, I have to trust that He is here with us and carrying us the whole way. And when you have the makes it easier to hope. 

During one of my trials this year, my dear friend Marcie at The Mustard Seed gave me a devotional called Jesus Calling. It was given to her during a very hard time in her life and she knew it would help me. But I wasn't ready for it then. A week ago, I decided I was ready to try it. It's a daily devotional for each day of the year and the words are written as if Jesus was the one saying them. It also incorporates Bible verses to look up.

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His  Presence - Devotions for Every Day of the Year  -     By: Sarah Young

It has hit the mark every day. Hope. Trust. Trust. Trust. One day that I read it, my eyes stopped seeing the actual words and it was like God took a big stamp and stamped "TRUST ME" on the page. It didn't matter what the devotional was saying, I read "Trust Me". 

Insert from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
 But Lord, it's so much easier said than done! I can say that I trust him, but to actually do it? That takes work. Whenever I start to worry about the future, I need to trust him. When I begin to dwell on the past, I need to trust him. When I have a day that I feel like I can't even get out of bed......I need to trust him. 

 I'm still in the midst of my trial. But when I started this devotional, I literally didn't have the energy to hope that things might work out someday. It was exhausting to think about because it seemed so unlikely. But I just kept reading. Each morning I set my alarm 30 minutes before the kids get up so I could start my day with Jesus, and believe me it has not been easy! I am NOT a morning person. The first day I fell asleep sitting up. Talk about humility....Sorry God! I didn't mean to fall asleep in the middle of our conversation! Even though it's still hard to wake up, every day I do I can feel little rays of hope creeping in. Ever so slowly, but they are there.  

I wish...oh, how I wish I could sit here and tell you that in the end everything worked out beautifully. And maybe someday I will be able to say that. I share this with you because so many times people gloss over the hard times in life. They plaster on a smile and tell everyone they are fine. But I'm hoping to break that mold with authenticity. I am a real person, with real fears, real trials, real hopes and heartbreaks. But I also serve a REAL God that loves me no matter how imperfect and broken I am. 

You want to know what today's devotional says?

"Do not be ashamed of your emptiness. Instead, view it as the optimal condition for being filled with My Peace. It is easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as if you have it all together. Your attempts to look good can fool most people. But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, pg. 15)

You want to know the crazy part? I literally just read this for the first time. Right now. My alarm didn't wake me up this morning, so I had yet to do my devotional today. 

Do you have chills? Because I do!

Let me leave you with this. 

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life,  neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Trust Jesus. Have Hope in Jesus.
Those are my resolutions this year. Not by choice, but by necessity.

If you are having a similar time in life right now, or have had one in the past, please share your story! My only purpose in writing this is to reach out to other people that need to know they are not alone. And friend, you are NOT alone!

I highly encourage you to get this devotional and do your best to read it every day. I've only been at it for a week and it's already changing me for the better. Well, GOD is changing me through the book. 
You can order it HERE for $8.

God Bless you this year....and here's to hoping and trusting that it will be better than the last.