Listening and Waiting...

What a jam packed week we've had. We started in Alabama, went to Florida, then to Georgia, now we're back home in Alabama. We spent 3 days in Florida looking at rental homes, since we can't buy anything until our home sells. It seems we brought the rainy, dreary weather with us from Alabama, but at least the temps were warmer! We still haven't made a decision, as Gary says, "after a while, all the homes start to look alike!" but we have several options and we are just trusting the Lord for His guidance.

It's so easy to start what I like to call the "Panic Spiral of Doom" when we start thinking about everything that needs to get done in the next few weeks and all the decisions that have to be made. Gary and I are trying to avoid the "what if's" and just focus on taking the next step. Each day brings new challenges, but we have to take them as they come and just do that day what we can do--remember, we are not promised tomorrow, so why worry about it, right?!

If you're struggling with some decisions that need to be made, I challenge you to just be still and listen for the Lord's direction. He's waiting patiently for you to seek Him and He has promised to give you a firm place to stand! (Psalm 40)

Season of Change...

Yes, friends, don't stroke, I have decided to blog again! I had to laugh when I stared at my blog for about 5 minutes trying to figure out where and how to do a new post. That's a sure sign you've been gone from the blog world too long!

I chose to title this post "Season of Change" because that's exactly what I've been experiencing the past few months and am looking forward to in the days and months ahead. I am emerging from a season of quiet. A time, where I felt I needed to be still and listen for the voice of God. Despair and negativity were consuming me as I was pleading to the Lord to rescue me. When I felt He wasn't hearing me, I cried louder. But it was in the midst of my pleas that His still, small voice commanded me to be still, to be quiet, to be faithful and serve Him for such a time as this--regardless of the circumstances.

And so I hushed. I quit focusing on my "checklist" of the Lord meeting my needs and started learning a new habit of thankfulness and contentment in all things. It was a daily struggle, and one in which I didn't always win, but the Lord has consistently been chipping away at this self-centered, control-freak of a shell that I am and has reshaped and molded me and shown me that if I just get out of HIS way, then He will reveal to me the life and blessings He so longs to bestow upon me.

And like the first, new blooms in Spring, I am emerging with new life out of a cold, silent "winter", eager to see what the Lord has in store for me, for us, in this new season of our lives.

I'm back, but busy!!!

Hey friends! I'm back from two weeks at the beach (which was total heaven by the way), but I've hit the ground running! I started back to work at the school the day after I returned and now I'm waiting on my son, Zack, to get here from college (UCF in Orlando). He'll be here until Wednesday, then he heads back to school.

Hopefully, I'll be able to upload my vacation photos and blog by the end of the week! Hang in there with me---I really am gonna do better on blogging, just catching up and getting back into the swing of things right now!

Have a great week!

Gone to the beach...

...see you in two weeks!

And here I sit...

I'm leaving early in the morning -- heading down to West Palm Beach for two weeks before reality sets in August 5th and I'm back to work. In preparation for my trip, I've been making a list of things to do. I'm a list maker. Making lists. Yep! That's one of my specialties. Making lists. Checking things off! But the problem is, I'm NOT checking things off!

You know how sometimes when you have so much to do, it's overwhelming and you sit not knowing where to start? That's me -- sitting here -- blogging, twittering, facebooking, and 'oh yeah, I wanted to look that up real quick' or 'shoot! I forgot to read that yesterday! let me catch up on her posts now!' or 'oops! There goes the dryer! I'll just turn it back on for about 15 more minutes to let the clothes fluff before I put them away!'

Sound familiar?

And then before I realize it, hours have slipped by and I've accomplished nothing! So, I'm off to finish the laundry, pack, run errands, and head to the chiropractor. But if in a little while you see me on facebook or twittering, or if I stop by and comment on your blog, shhhhhh! Pretend you didn't see me... and it will just be our little secret!

Busy Weekend...Busier week ahead!

This weekend Gary's daughter, Blaire, came in town with her husband, Jon, and 8 month old son, Carter. Yes, that makes Gary a "Paw-Paw" and me, well, I'm a "MeMe"...cause you know I'm too young to be a granny!!! We had a wonderful weekend just loving on that baby and watching every little expression on his face and oooooing and ahhhhhing over every little jibber-jabber he made with his voice! So precious! They actually live in Georgia about 10 minutes from my mom, but we don't get to see them often enough. So, we were thrilled when they agreed to pack up half their house and head south!

Click this link for photos...

These next few days are crazy busy for me. I have several Dr.'s appts (just check-ups/chiropractor, etc.), laundry to do, groceries to purchase, packing, driving... ahhhh! I'm tired already! I'll be headed to West Palm Beach on Wednesday for my last two weeks of summer before I have to report to school on the 5th of August.

Where did the summer go?! Not gonna think about that now...just holding on to the notion of an endless summer! Wouldn't that be nice?!

How 'bout you? Can you stand the heat or do you prefer the winter?

GROUT: Ghastly to Great!!!

Some of you that are my friends on Facebook or Twitter have been following my kitchen grout dilema! Hubby and I decided to tile the kitchen about 6 years ago--neither one of us having ever tiled anything before, were like the blind leading the blind in Home Depot. For some unknown reason I chose a light sand colored grout (like the sand in the Gulf). Over the years, it has become dingy and stained and no amount of products, by themselves, or mixed by my experimentation in my homemade chemistry lab (also known as the kitchen), would work!

But Wednesday evening, the Twitter gods shined down on me and my Grout Angel, also known as Antique Mommy, sent me a message about a product called "Grout Renew" an All-in one colorant and sealer. So yesterday I ran right out, well, actually drove, cause here in South Alabama it was about 97 degrees with what felt like a heat index of 110, and I wouldn't have made it further than the end of my street before passing out, ummm...where was I? Oh yeah, I drove over to Home Depot and picked me up some magic in a bottle!

I chose a color called "Sandstone"...uh-oh! Not the sand color again! No, this one is a darker taupe color, like the sand on the east coast of Florida. Also picked up some little spongey things on a stick to paint with (also recommended by Antique Mommy), came home and got to work!

Four hours later I was finished and looking over my kitchen floor with the smugness of a Grout Colorant Expert! Ok, well, that's a little bit of a stretch. But I was really pleased with the results! It probably wouldn't have taken that long except I went back over a few places once I got the hang of it! ('Before' and 'After' pictures below for your viewing enjoyment!)

It just goes to show, out there in Cyberland, not only are there great friends to be made, but a wealth of information waiting to be discovered!

A sampling of products I used in my desperation...
The floors "before" might think they don't look so bad, but...
closer up this is the nasty grout!
Drove over to my local Home Depot...
Excited about getting started with the "Grout Renew"!

Actually, it's the Dog Days of Summer!

I love animals. Really, I do! I have three cats and a dog! But I'm about ready to make my neighbor's dog disappear. We have leash laws here, but apparently the neighbors don't think it applies to them.

They just open up their front door and let their dog, Booger, [yes, you read correctly] run free outside anytime they are home. Booger likes to dig in my yard. Booger likes to poop on my driveway. Booger likes to pee all over our yard to "mark" it--which in turn, makes my puppy dig his heels in and refuse to leave the driveway--which in turn, forces us to walk across the street and down a few houses to an empty lot for him to do his "business".

Neighbors are nice people and hubby doesn't want to say anything to them about it because he's afraid it would make them mad. What??? I have no doubt they would say something to us if the 'poop' were on the other foot!

What would you do?

But wait, there's more. God smiled down on me this morning. While hubby was outside with our ever-so-precious puppy a few minutes ago, Mr. Neighbor asked Gary if they could give us a key to check on their dog while they are out of town the next 10 days.

Of course we will!

[Note: no animals were hurt during this posting!]

Whatever happened to the lazy days of summer?

One of the best things about my job working at a school is that I have the summer off. Well, really, not the whole summer, just the months of June and July. But even for that, I am grateful! By the way, do you remember the days when we would get out of school the first week of June and not go back until after Labor Day weekend?! Whatever happened to that schedule?

Anyway, I have not been able to sleep in one single day since I've been off. Most days I get up between 6 and 6:30 a.m. The latest I've slept in was 7:30 a.m. And I have not really been able to just "chill" and do absolutely nothing. The first two weeks I was out of school, I was cleaning the house like a mad woman--even scrubbing floors for hours with a toothbrush! Then I decided to organize the office and clean out drawers and old files and from there, I moved to the outside of the house! My poor hubby! I've had him cutting down trees, and he and I have worked like mexicans the past couple of days trimming bushes, weedeating, cutting limbs, edging, etc. {No offense to any of my mexican friends out there! I think y'all are the hardest working people I know!}

Today, I'm paying for it. I don't know if it's because I've been working out or from working in the yard, but I have sore muscles where I didn't even know I had muscles! But there's no rest for the weary! Gary's daughter and her husband and baby are coming in town for the weekend, so it's off to mop, dust, and get the guest room ready! Amazing how your perspective of a "clean house" changes when you know a baby will be crawling around!

I do plan to finish out the summer taking advantage of "lazy" though... I'll be vegging in West Palm Beach July 22nd - August 4th, then it's back to reality August 5th... what a wake-up call!

Missing my family...

It's been a long time since I've blogged. No good reason. No excuses.

But today, more than ever, I've realized how much I miss my "family". The friendships I made over the years through the blog were stronger bonds than I knew could be possible from strangers that became friends. When I was hurting, your tears fell right along with mine. When I was rejoicing over good news, your applause could be heard louder than anyone else's. When I needed prayer, you didn't ask questions, just went straight to the throne and lifted my name.

You've always been there for me. Cheering. Loving. Praying. Encouraging. And today, I was reminded how much I've missed you, and how much I need this circle of friends.

Thank you for being here...then and now.

I'm not worthy...

Good grief. I can't believe it's been over two months since I've blogged. Why is it that I feel I have less time to blog now than I did before? When Zack was home I was busy cooking, doing laundry, being Band Booster president, and still had time to blog. I can't explain it. Maybe it's not a time issue, maybe it's lack of motivation. I'm so not worthy to be a "B Club" member! ;-)

So, here's what I've been doing in a nutshell...

Valentine's Day was good - remember, we decided to give each other gifts starting with the letters in our names... T was a bag of Twizzler's (my fav!), R was roses, and for the life of me I can't remember the rest. My memory is gone. Oh yeah, he gave me a yo-yo for the Y, but I can't remember A, C, and E.

Spring Break we went to Orlando and spent the week with Zack. We had a great time! He even surprised us one night with tickets to the Blue Man Group show at Universal which was a blast! He is such a good son and doing so well in school. We are so proud of him. We also took our baby, Knightro (puppy) with us for the week. That was an adventure!

Back hard at work at the school. Seems things get really crazy busy the closer it gets to the end of the school year. I'm counting down the days...27 more school days. I'm looking forward to being off this summer and spending time with Zack. He'll only be home a few weeks here and there.

Church is going good. The Lord is dealing with me on so many levels and I am slowly learning to surrender every area of my life to Him. I've also joined a Sunday School class that I really like and am getting more involved.

I'm reading a fantastic book by Randy Alcorn called "Edge of Eternity" which is piercing my heart every day. I also recently finished "Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom which has so many wonderful lessons in it. He also wrote "Tuesdays with Morrie" which was another excellent book. Guess I've been reading alot in my free time.

So, that about sums up my last two months. It's been raining like crazy here and although we need the rain, I'm ready for a little sunshine! I was going to say I'll try to do better blogging, but every time I say that, I disappear for months. So, until next time...

Please pray...

Hi bloggy friends! I just wanted to tell you about a friend of mine that I worked with in Atlanta at the South Metro Baptist Association. His name is Novel and he and his wife, Martha, are among the sweetest people you will ever meet!

Right before Christmas, Novel found out he has prostate cancer. I've set up a blog and am doing updates to keep their friends and family informed---these two are friends with just about everyone in every Southern Baptist Church on the southside of town! And trust me, if you knew them, they would immediately become your friends too! There are no two people more warm and loving.

Please stop by and offer up your encouragement to them and "bookmark" their site so as to periodically check in on them and pray for them. I know it would be greatly appreciated!

In the Name of Love

Love is in the air! Can you believe it's already February? Valentine's Day is right around the corner! This year, because neither Gary nor I really need anything, plus [like everyone else] we are trying to "pinch pennies", I decided it would be fun to give each other gifts that correlate with each letter of our name...BUT here's the can only come from the dollar store!!! How funny is that?! You can find some really odd and interesting things at the dollar store!

Since my name has more letters than his, we agreed to spend $10 each. I think it will turn out to be pretty funny and I will definitely share our "findings"!

So, what are your plans?

True Colors

So a week has passed by since I last blogged...and I was doing so good there for a while! It's been an extremely busy week. Zack made it back from Washington, D.C. safely...and just in time! They've had quite a bit of snow in the past couple of days. He was glad to get back to temps in the 80's! But, now he's fighting a bad sore throat and cough--probably from over exhaustion and also the extreme cold, but he'll be alright.

It's been quite interesting to see and hear how passionate some people are about politics. Honestly, I really don't care that much about politics. It's only been in the last year or two that I've really thought [much more than a minute] about my views on certain issues. I can't imagine though, that even if I really cared about politics, that someone's political views would cause me to sever a friendship.

Unfortunately, I've experienced that this past week. I had a childhood friend that I've known since the 5th grade "un-friend" me on Facebook because, as he put it, "I had to take a break, you were going way over the top with all the 'O' entries."

I was stunned.

I looked back at all my status updates and over a week's time, I only used the "O" word (he makes it sound like a 'dirty word') ONE time and that was when I made reference to Zack attending the staff ball and the Bidens and Obamas showing up. I was excited for Zack and the opportunity he had to witness history personally and made comments on my status regarding his travel, what he was doing that day, etc. NO political 'stands' or comments whatsoever! BUT even if I did share my political views on my facebook status every moment of the day, is that seriously something to sever a friendship over? Wow. I just know that my relationships mean so much more to me than that.

I really don't know why I'm that upset over it. I mean, we were elementary, jr. high and high school friends. We even went to prom together (as friends) cause neither of us was dating anyone. But, we haven't really kept in touch that much since high school. I guess it's more the shock of it over such a ridiculous thing that stunned me so much.

And disappointment too--Christians that choose to act like this. The past few months I've really been struggling with Christians that claim to love, but the reality is that it's conditional love---Christians that make racist comments throughout the week and then proudly hold their heads high on Sundays---Christians who don't think the "brother's keeper" applies to them. Christians that will pick and choose which parts of the Bible they want to quote and which parts they choose to disregard.

I love to read and re-read the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew...and Romans 13 really is applicable no matter what your political views are. I just think that as Christians, we should show kindness and love to everyone we encounter---not just those who agree with us.

A Night to Remember!

Zack attended the Staff Ball last night in Washington, D.C. and had a blast! He was texting me all night and sending me pictures via text messages and even some video messages. Here's just a snippet of some of the hundreds of pictures he took. Hopefully, when he gets back to school, he will upload all of them and I can share the link with you! (Please pray for his safety as he travels back to Orlando tomorrow!)

A little something sweet...

I just love decorating cupcakes and thought I would make some tonight in honor of tomorrow's inauguration celebration! I made several different designs to share with my co-workers. There's something for everyone in red velvet or chocolate fudge!
Check out the concentration...
Move over Martha Stewart!
Something for everyone...

Knightro says, "Mommy! I want some too!"

Up on the hill...

This is the only photo I have so far. Here's Zack in front of the Capitol today. They have been going non-stop since he arrived in D.C. yesterday evening! Last night he went to a New Hampshire campaign dinner, this afternoon he attended the 'We Are One' concert at the Lincoln Memorial and tonight he's headed to a Florida campaign dinner. He is having the time of his life, in spite of the cold temps!

The eagle is in the nest...

I heard from Zack all along his route and they made it to D.C. about 8:00 p.m. eastern time. He said it's 'ridiculously cold' but he doesn't care! The friends he's staying with have a place on Constitution not far from the capitol, so they'll be able to just walk everywhere. He's super excited about visiting all the monuments and the Smithsonian. He's been to D.C. numerous times, but it means so much more to him now that he's older and cares more about American history and politics. Please continue to pray for his safety while in D.C. I will post updates!

On another note, congrats to my friend Jean! Her son, Anthony and his wife, Lori, welcomed their first baby into the world last night! Go here to see pics of precious Austin and congratulate Jean on this new blessing to their family!

History in the making...

This morning I awoke an anxious mother because Zack left very early to drive to Washington, D.C. It's about a 13-14 hour trip from Orlando to D.C. and he's never taken that long of a trip before! I am glad that at least he's not alone. His friend, Lauren, who was an area organizer in Florida for the Obama campaign, got them tickets to the inauguration and also tickets to an inaugural ball. He has been so excited! He's been counting down the days since Christmas!

Regardless of political views, I believe everyone is aware of what a history-making moment this is in our country! I am so thrilled that Zack has the opportunity to witness it in person! Please pray for his safety today as he travels. I will post updates!

Blind...but not mute

About two years ago, there was an older gentleman who worked in our local post office named Sam. I affectionately (sorta) referred to him as "Postal Sam" whenever I would discuss him with my hubby after visits to the post office. Postal Sam was not a very friendly man. He seemed irritated with the mere thought of even having to wait on customers. Plus, he always had this white puss-like stuff in the corners of his mouth that just repulsed me. I would stand anxiously awaiting my turn in the slow moving line, praying for some other ever-so-friendly postal employee so as not to get Postal Sam. Without fail, I always would end up across the counter from Postal Sam.

As he would bark out "what can I do for you?" I found myself concentrating on the mysterious substance in the corners of his mouth. I came home complaining and told Gary how grossed out I was by his mouth and what an ornery old man he was, blah, blah, blah. And can I just tell you... hand on the Bible...the next morning I woke up with sores in each corner of my mouth? I had NEVER had this problem before and with gleeful delight, my hubby said, "that's what you get for talking about him!"

You would think I learned my lesson.

When my hubby turned 50, I began to notice he would hold things at arm's length to read them. I began to relentlessly tease and torture him...especially when he had to give in and get glasses! To which he quickly replied, "your day is coming!"

"HA! I have a long way to go before I reach 50 mister!"

A few months ago I turned 42. Overnight my perfect vision vanished! "How can this be? I'm only 42!" I said to myself. Gone are the days of reading medicine bottle labels, grocery labels, mail, any kind of directions or instructions, without holding them out as far as my arm will reach.

Lately, I've resorted to putting on my hubby's glasses--the very ones over which I tortured him.

So, have I learned my lesson? Hmmmm....maybe mute wouldn't be such a bad thing.

It's all about who you know!

So, you stopped back by! Can you believe I'm posting again?! I just had to log on and give "props" to my friend, Lindsey for my blog re-design. She teaches computer at our school and also is in charge of the Yearbook. That girl has more talent in her little finger than I will ever have my whole life! It's amazing what she can do...and in such a short time! I'll say something like this, "I'm thinking about a new look for my blog" and with the likes of Jeannie or Samantha, she will give a twitch of her nose or a bob of her head and voila! A whole new look! (That's Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie" and Samantha from "Bewitched"---she's too young to know that!)

Today she was trying to show me how to do some things in Photoshop and after about the 3rd step, I was completely lost! But it's all long as I have Lindsey around...she is my go-to girl in all things design!

Stop on by and introduce yourself to her! I promise it will be worth your while! The girl talks faster than anyone I know and her blog is absolutely precious!

Thanks Lindsey! You're the best! to a running start!

Happy New Year! Let me introduce name is Tracey and I'm a slack blogger. I know, I've been horrible at blogging ever since Zack went off to school...which is weird, because you would think I would be blogging more often since I have more time on my hands. Unexplainable. Other than maybe my blogs would look like this.

I woke up.
I went to work.
I came home.
I ate a bowl of cereal for dinner.
I went to bed.

Woah, Nellie! Exciting stuff, I know! Try to contain yourself! But, that really is the gist of my days lately. However, I did get a new puppy. Kinda sounds like I'm in the 1st grade class and we just got back from Christmas break and we're all reporting on what we did or what we got. My turn! My turn!

Anyway, the puppy keeps me busy. It's like having another baby---not sure I was quite ready for that. He's on a schedule...he eats, he poops, he sleeps...and then he does it all over again. Come to think of it, me and the dog have alot in common.

So welcome me back to the bloggy world. Kinda reminds me of that obnoxious Christmas song by the guy that wrote "Footloose"... anyway, the "Celebrate Me Home" song. Can I just tell you how irritated I get during the Christmas season when I hear that song playing on the radio?! Is he telling someone to celebrate him coming home? Is he telling someone to celebrate his maybe in Pirate language...ahoy mateys! celebrate 'me' (my) home! Regardless of the meaning, I hate it...double hate...loathe that song.

I digress.

So, in the spirit of hospitality, I'll welcome YOU back to my blog. Come back often, I'll do my best to be here!
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