Vacay from a Vacay

Within seconds of us pulling into Uncle Bill and Aunt Mildred's driveway, Bo was begging to ride Uncle Bill's new tractor. His little 3-year-old self was pleased as punch when He finally got what he'd been talking about since the last time we were all in Alabama back in October.

Within seconds of us pulling into Uncle Bill and Aunt Mildred's driveway, Bo was begging to ride Uncle Bill's new tractor. His little 3-year-old self was pleased as punch when He finally got what he'd been talking about since the last time we were all in Alabama back in October.

It's been 2 weeks since I last posted. I had all intentions of maintaining an appearance when we left for vacation because I guess that's what good bloggers do? I internally chuckle at myself as I type this because I surely am not a blogger but rather someone who simply loves to write when inspired. I'm trying this new thing with living for the present so when it was bedtime last Monday night and it dawned on me that I failed to post, I thought to myself, oh well, it's late, I'm on vacation and it can wait until next Monday.

We had a great vacation. We left around 5 a.m. two Fridays ago and drove what ended up being about 14 hours to my dad's house in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (it was supposed to be 12 but when you travel with 2 kids, ages 3 and under, you just roll with it and accept that you'll get there when you get there). It was the weekend before my dad's 60th birthday and he had no clue we were coming so it was fun surprising him. We spent two nights there and then continued our trip down to my family's place in Moulton, Alabama. As I'm sure I've mentioned in previous posts, crossing out of Staten Island and onto the mainland always gives me a sense of release--from stress, busyness and the rat race that I often feel I fall into living here in this fast pace culture--and even more so, pulling up to my great aunt and uncle's place in north Alabama gives me a sense of home. Being in the wide open country, getting my kids out of their carseats and allowing them to just roam is a good feeling.

Rob and I spent the majority of the week helping my great Uncle Bill and Aunt Mildred in the fields of their produce farm. It was still our summer vacation so we made time to relax and do things with the kids as well; Rob had acquired an old .22 and refinished it for Bo so he had his first real lesson in weapon safety and shot his first gun. We celebrated the 4th of July at our family's cabin with many members of my extended family on my mom's side, which was the first one I had been at in 8 years (the last one I attended was also the last time I saw my cousin, Callie, alive). My kids saw an up-close firework show for the first time (it was definitely CC's first and it was Bo's first that I know of), poor CC was exhausted and fell asleep toward the end but Bo was in his glory. Every year everyone sets out chairs on the lawn of the cabin while my cousin's husband puts on a firework show fit for an official municipal event. It doesn't matter that this year it was muggy as the day was long and the mosquitos were out in droves. Everyone ooed and awed at the colors and lights that sprinkled the southern night sky.

While we were away we also celebrated Rob's 36th birthday. My mom had come from South Carolina to stay a few days and see the family so thankfully she watched the kids so Rob and I could go out for his birthday. We went to a restaurant called Cotton Row in Huntsville. Y'all! If you are ever in that neck of the woods, you MUST try it out! The ambiance was beautiful, the service was on point and the food was slap-yo-mama good. We enjoyed our dinner, then walked around the downtown area, and ended the evening by stopping in at Cabela's (or as Rob referred to it, "Disney Land") and Rite Aid because you can't go on vacation without at least one of your kids getting the sickies. I think all-in-all he rang in his new age successfully.

We got back late yesterday afternoon and thankfully, we pretty much have a routine down pat when it comes to going away for an extended period of time, which means returning wasn't complete chaos. It was just a matter of putting everything away. However, just as many others can probably attest to, I feel like I need a vacation to recoup from our vacation. Aside from restocking our groceries and running errands, I have a laundry list of projects and orders that need to be tended to and completed. When I think about what all needs to be done and their deadlines, I get a little panicky but as my mama always says, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"

I miss the south and everything that comes with it (except for the reality of poisonous snakes and spiders of course) but I'm ready to get back into my routine and get work done. It's always bittersweet leaving what feels like home to me but I know God has a plan and for once in my 32 years, I'm content with where I am, wherever that may be on the map. I'm ok with whatever He decides because I know that I'm in His perfect plan and in His perfect peace.

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Right in Front of Me

Whomever invented italian rainbow cookies should be inducted to the Hall of Fame. These little gems are one of the many things that i love about Long Island.

Whomever invented italian rainbow cookies should be inducted to the Hall of Fame. These little gems are one of the many things that i love about Long Island.

I’ve naysayed this place I’ve lived in pretty much since I got here more than 7 years ago. Even if something was nice or beautiful, I’d look at the negative. I’m generally a positive person and try to find the good in people/things but I’ve been on a mission not to allow myself to like any part of where I am for fear that I’d never return “home” (the south) if I so much as saw a glimpse of the good here. Shame on me.

Back in December I was able to break away from everyday life one Saturday morning and attend a ladies event at my church; it was an IF Gathering which was a pre-recorded conference. Man did I want to lay face down on the floor and just cry. I felt so convicted and guilty yet so open and inspired by the words of the key speakers. Jennie Allen, the founder of IF made some profound statements about today’s society— more specifically the women—and how she fears that the new generation coming up will not have the older generation discipling them. She touched on how we need to stop looking and thinking that bigger is better, that we’re trying to go big but God wants us to go small. That’s not to say He doesn’t want us to be successful or stifle ourselves but rather instead of sitting behind a computer and posting inspirational things, instead of worrying about how many followers we have on Instagram, we need to get back to basics. We need to take the girl next door to coffee, get to know our sisters on a personal level, break bread with them and gain their trust so that we can minister to them and then they can go minister to others. A chain will form and that older generation is me.

Sometimes seeking the will of God for my life can feel a bit overwhelming. Today's society is all about self-help and me me me. What can I do to better myself? What can I do to make myself happy? How can I become more successful? I'll admit, at times I tend to get caught up in that whole mindset and forget the big picture. While it's a great philosophy to want to better yourself, that's not what life is about. We were created to be beacons of light, pointing others towards Jesus. Not exhausting all efforts to be happy. That gets old if you ask me. There's a huge difference between happiness and true joy. Happiness is a feeling based on your happenings...on your current situation. It's short lived. True joy is eternal and comes from fulfillment that only God can provide. If you've been looking all over kingdom come, trying this and that to feel fulfilled, don't you think that maybe you're missing one essential nugget? A true relationship with your Creator perhaps?

It's so easy to get wrapped up in what others are posting on social media these days--everything is filtered, looks prim and perfect, their lives look so put together but I'm sure most of those people (ok let's be real...all of those people) have hurts and problems just like you and me. Life gets them down and feeling overwhelmed. No one is exempt from the craziness of this world we live in. The difference though is where our hearts are positioned. Are they positioned in an "ok this other thing will make me feel fulfilled and happy" or "life may not be perfect but I serve a perfect God who gives me joy every morning and I'm going to shout it from the rooftops and share with whomever will listen"? I definitely need polishing in the field of discipleship and to be quite honest, I'm still navigating what exactly that looks like, but after that If Gathering a few months ago, I left feeling challenged to stop getting so overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the artist next door and what her Instagram is looking like, and get back to basics. Be my authentic self. The core of my image for MAGNOLIA+PINE boutique is to spread the word of God but if in doing that, I'm losing site of what He really wants from me--not to get wrapped up in comparing my stuff to others and trying to be successful with sales, followers, etc.--I'm working my tail off in vain. Sure, it's great to have Instagram followers and a platform that could reach the corners of the earth but if I'm not doing my part locally, taking the girl next door (so to speak) to lunch and asking her, "hey, how are you doing...truly?", I'm missing my mark.

The thought of discipling is intimidating to me not only because I'm a mom to two small children with a truck load of tasks and responsibilities so time away from home is few and far between, but also because even though in most situations I come across as an extravert, I truly am much more comfortable in my little shell. However, I feel like God continues to remind me of that December day and the importance of the small, basic things. I've always been a dreamer, since I was a small child I remember having big dreams, and that has carried on into adulthood. My dreams now look a little different than when I was 5; instead of me being a professional figure skater or gymnast like the girls I saw on T.V., I now dream of having a successful loving marriage, well behaved children who will one day choose to serve God and a successful business. As I've grown and matured spiritually though, I have begun to see the importance of others over myself. More so in the spiritual realm than in the physical. I still have to remind myself often that this world won't always be here and if anyone who isn't remotely a believer who happens to read this post will probably think I'm a looney-tune, but it's true. When your time on this earth is done, is it really going to matter how many Instagram followers you have? Is it going to matter how many comments and likes you had on any of your social media handles? What really matters is where you're going and who is going with you. I know where I'm going, now it's just a matter of me bringing as many people with me when it's my time to go. It seems like a daunting task but it's really so simple. It starts with a simple invitation to go for a walk or grab a cup of coffee. Dream small.

"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities." -Luke 16:10


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