Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Last Day in 2016

Wow, did 2016 go as quickly for everyone else as it did for me? I feel like I barely was in 2016, it went by so fast!
Today's the last day of 2016. I promise, I'm not going to make long speeches or give advice. I'll make one encouragement and that's it.
Tell Others About Christ in 2017.
That's the best thing anyone can do. Time's flying fast and by the looks of things, we don't have long left on this earth before the Lord returns. So instead of making resolutions and failing, make yourself a promise to tell others about Christ next year, and keep that promise. It's not too hard, not too big of a task. If you are reading this, you can tell someone else about what a great gift God gave mankind when He gave His Only begotton Son to die for our sins. If you can post on Facebook, Instagram or other social media sites, you can hand out a tract or tell someone by comment/post/direct message about what God did for you!
So I encourage you, my readers, to be faithful witnesses. Share your faith, share the Gospel. Live a life that shows God's love, not only with words but through your actions!

God bless in the coming year!
Melissa

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Amen. Revelation 22:20-21

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

I hope each of my readers has a blessed Christmas, and that you remember the best Gift of all wasn't put under a tree, He was hung on one and rose again three days later. May God bless your day with laughter, love and family, and may the only tears be ones of joy!

Love in the Lord,
Melissa

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Sewing

Anyone who knows me will know I love old things. Dresses, books, music, dishes... I love it all. Old styles influence my sewing, my writing, and my crocheting. And hence, my white dress was sewn.

I had wanted to find a old 1950s/1960s dress pattern to try my hand at, in practice for my wedding dress. I tried to find a pattern that had the elements I wanted for my wedding dress, searching for a couple years before I came across one. I bought the pattern, then began my search for the perfect fabric.

The Lord let a friend of my family decide to clean out her abundant fabric closet, and I was given a very beautiful white, faintly floral fabric. It was a little thinner than I had hoped, but for a practice dress, it was perfect.

I finally worked up the confidence to cut the fabric (I was terrified of ruining such lovely fabric) and to try my hand at a zipper (I hadn't yet tried one!). I carefully cut the pattern out, then the fabric. In my fear of the dress turning out too small, I cut it out using the largest size- a mistake that almost ruined the dress when I had to go back and resize the whole thing!

It didn't take long to figure out how to put the pieces together, and I started stitching them in place. At one point, the instructions were so unclear I just used common sense and went with what made sense to me. At long last, all I had was to gather the skirt, hem the skirt and finish the neckline.
I did make a mistake. I didn't think to keep my gathers even and when I sewed in the zipper, the two sides of the waist didn't quite line up. But thankfully, with the fullness of the gathers, it's not completely obvious!
Hemming the skirt didn't take long, thank the Lord. I finished it just in time for a photo shoot with my mom and siblings while the weather was still pleasant and I could twirl and smile in the sunshine!
Mom took this one, and it's her favorite shot of the dress.
The dress turned out better than I had hoped! I know I need to practice much more before I attempt a wedding dress, but I'm thankful the Lord let me have everything I needed and find the help with new skills that I needed to make this beautiful dress. I might never wear it out, but at least I'll know I can sew a dress if need be. Who knows, maybe one day my great-granddaughters will pull this old, faded white dress from the attic and wonder what Great-Grandma was thinking when she sewed it πŸ™‚


Monday, December 19, 2016

Meet My Characters: Josh and Isabella

I thought it was about time I introduce another of my fictional couples. Actually, this time it's a trio of characters, because the third character is too important for me to leave her out!


Meet Josh. Josh is a widowed father struggling to keep up with his growing daughter since he lost his wife. Quiet, serious and rather stern, Josh finds it easier to shut people out of the protective little world he has created for his daughter, rather than take chances that the life he has made for himself and his daughter might be disrupted. An architect by trade and Christian by choice, Josh has to face facts that having a broken arm, a rambunctious daughter and trying to take care of everything by himself isn't exactly possible at the beginning of this story, which brings me to my second character....

Meet Isabella. Pretty, rich and heartbroken, Isabella has had her heart broken in love, though not quite like Josh has. Her dream of becoming a teacher has never quite came true, though her wealthy aunt and uncle would gladly help her if she would only ask. Being raised as a only child by her aunt and uncle after her parents death, Isabella isn't quite sure how other families live, and has been rather secluded by her family due to the heartbreak she has endured. And offer to become a nanny changes her life for the better, though, and that brings me to my third character....

Meet Lily. She's 5 years old, never still, and loves glitter with a passion. Like her father's life, this story pretty much revolves around this blonde haired, bouncy, frilly little girl. She was my comic relief, my bittersweet moments, and my favorite character in this book, I'll be honest. I used a few of my siblings' antics to inspire her, and it shows. I may or may not have used a few of my own qualities (yes, the love of glitter) when writing Lily.

Josh and Isabella's story was one of my favorite to write. I actually laughed so hard at one part, I had to stop writing for fifteen minutes till I could clear the tears out of my eyes and see the keyboard. And there were sad tears, too, especially when Lily talks about her mother. Maybe the next Meet My Characters will be Isabella's aunt and uncle, Grace and Harry, or Josh's sister Ashley and her large family, because they played an important part in this story, too.

I hope you enjoyed this little preview into one of my books and meeting Josh, Isabella and Lily!

The Sunday School Teacher's Bible- A Short Story

By Melissa Holliday
 Seven little faces looked up with awe and fear at the stern, wrinkled face that gave no sign of friendliness as they entered the Sunday school room. Seven pairs of eyes took in the sparsely decorated room, wondering how they had managed to deserve moving from the fun kindergarten class to this scary, unfamiliar first grade class. Seven pairs of feet shuffled in unwillingly as the old lady who was to be their teacher boomed out,
 “Let’s take our seats boys and girls.”
 Little Rhoda Jones sat down on the closest chair to the door, her best friend Amber sitting next to her. The two scooted their chairs as close together as possible as if being closer to each other would protect them from whatever happened in first grade Sunday school.
 “Now, since this is your first Sunday in my class,” Miss Todd said, her voice monotone and somber, “I’ll go over the rules. Do not talk during the lesson, do not draw on the table, no kicking and no playing during the lesson. If you finish in time, we will have a snack and then you may talk. But it is very important that you listen to our Bible story so you can remember what God wants us to learn.”
 Rhoda’s feet shook in their black leather shoes. Why hadn’t her sister told her Miss Todd was so… so…. So grouchy?
 It was a wonder than any of the seven little minds were able to concentrate on their lesson. The fear of what Miss Todd might tell their parents if they misbehaved was enough to keep them still and silent.
     Five Months Later
 Rhoda raced into the Sunday school room, determined to tell Miss Todd her memory verse first so she might claim the prize. No one had practiced harder than she had to win the coveted Bible for memorizing the most verses this quarter. But when she reached the door, the other kids still paces behind, she didn’t see Miss Todd. Instead, a young, happy lady was laying out the morning’s lessons.
 “Hello there!” She smiled at Rhoda, who shrank back in confusion.
 “Where’s Miss Todd?” Rhoda asked.
 “Miss Todd had to go in the hospital, so the pastor asked if I would fill in for her until she recovers.” The lady smiled. “I’m his niece, Miss Kate.”
 Rhoda looked questionably at the young woman, then eased into the room. The other children did the same as they took their seats. Knowing their routine, they laid their Bibles on the table, sat still and waited for opening prayer.
 But Miss Kate didn’t follow the same routine.
 “Who wants cookies? I made them fresh this morning.” She asked, producing a container of sugar cookies that still were warm and looked so delicious.
 Rhoda licked her lips in anticipation. The cookies smelled much better than the crackers or occasional sweet treat Miss Todd brought.
 “And then after our snack we’ll work on our craft.” Miss Kate said cheerfully.
 Craft? Miss Todd never let the kids make crafts. They always spend the Sunday school time reading verses as she told the Bible story and working on the little quizzes and puzzles she brought to help them remember their lesson from the previous Sunday.
 Sunday school had never been better, Rhoda thought, as they savored the cookies- Miss Kate let them have as many as they wanted- and colored pretty pictures of Joseph’s coat of many colors. They played a game, sang a song, and then Miss Kate hurried to tell them the story of Joseph and his brothers. They barely had time to finish the story before someone came knocking on the classroom door to let them know they were out of time. Rhoda clutched her Bible in her hands and skipped from the room as happy as a lark. Miss Kate was definitely a better Sunday school teacher than Miss Todd!
 Four weeks passed and Miss Todd still wasn’t back. Rhoda sort of missed her teacher, but Miss Kate was too much fun for Rhoda to wish Miss Todd back. She asked God to help Miss Todd feel better, but made sure He knew she didn’t want Him to rush Miss Todd into getting better if she needed longer.
 The cookies were still a treat each Sunday, and more kids were coming to Sunday school now, which made Rhoda happy. Miss Kate always had plenty of cookies and crafts for all the kids, and each Sunday Rhoda and her classmates looked forward to that thirty minutes of fun and games. Rhoda hardly missed the long Bible stories or looking up verses in her Bible-
 “My Bible!” Rhoda thought, realizing she had left it at home. Miss Todd would have never approved of her coming to class without her Bible. Maybe Miss Kate would be a little nicer about it.
 After the cookies, Rhoda raised her hand.
 “Yes, Rhoda?” Miss Kate said, barely looking up from the jigsaw puzzle of Moses she was cutting out.
 “I forgot my Bible.” Rhoda admitted.
 “Oh, well, that’s okay. Just bring it next Sunday.” Miss Kate said, smiling.
 Whew, good! Rhoda sighed in relief. At least she wasn’t in trouble.
 But Rhoda didn’t remember her Bible the next week. Again, Miss Kate just told her to bring it next week. Pretty soon, Rhoda forgot all about it, and didn’t even think to tell Miss Kate she had forgotten it.  After all, she didn’t really need it. They never looked up verses anymore.
    Three months later
 Rhoda looked at the calendar on the kitchen wall. Just a few more months and she’d be moving to the second grade class in Sunday school! She bounced out the door behind her family, thinking how much fun Sunday school was going to be today. Miss Kate had promised to bring doughnuts and chocolate milk for their snack, and Rhoda could hardly wait to sink her teeth into the yummy treats!
 She was first to jump from the car and go running to the church. Hurrying to the back, she raced towards the Sunday school room, hoping to be first to pick a doughnut before the other kids had chosen all the good ones.
 Rhoda skidded to a stop. Miss Todd was sitting at the Sunday school table, laying out papers in each spot.
 “Miss Todd?” Rhoda’s eyes widened. “Where’d Miss Kate go?”
 “She got married yesterday, and I’m all well now so I can teach again.” Miss Todd smiled- probably one of the few smiles Rhoda ever remembered seeing on her teacher’s face.
 “Miss Kate won’t be back?”
 “No, no. She will be living far away from here, in a place called Connecticut.” Miss Todd frowned. “Rhoda, you seemed to have forgotten your Bible.”
 Rhoda looked down at her hands. “Oh… I did. Well, we never need our Bibles anymore in class so I…”
 Miss Todd looked disappointed. “I see. Well, please don’t forget it next Sunday. For today, you may borrow my Bible.” She reached down into her bag and produced a worn Bible.
 Rhoda took the old Bible and laid in in her spot, missing the buckets of crayons and pencils that usually were on the table. She sat down and looked around. No sweet treats.
 “Do you have your verse all memorized and ready to recite?” Miss Todd asked.
 Rhoda looked sheepishly at her teacher. “No, ma’am.”
 “I see.” Miss Todd nodded. “Well, you better practice before next week. You don’t want to get behind.”
 Rhoda wondered what Miss Todd would say if she knew none of the children had been saying their memory verses for the past three months.
 One by one, the other children came, until it was time to begin. Like always, Miss Todd said a short prayer, thanking the Lord for the time to learn and for each student. When she said Amen, Rhoda saw the children who had been coming while Miss Kate was the teacher squirm. Miss Todd began their Bible lesson- only a couple children had their Bibles, so they and Rhoda looked up the verses- and worked on their quiz for the day. Thankfully Miss Todd had given a quiz on Creation, so Rhoda knew the answers without having heard the Bible lesson the week before.
 Once they were done, Miss Todd looked at the clock. “Well, we are done just on time, so why don’t you all share with me what you have been working on during the months I’ve been away. What did you learn?”
 Fourteen pairs of eyes looked around. What had they learned?
 Rhoda searched her memory but couldn’t think of one single lesson they had been taught.
 “What did you learn last week, Rhoda?” Miss Todd asked.
 Rhoda shrugged. “I don’t remember.”
 Miss Todd said nothing, only nodded sadly.
 At promptly ten till, Miss Todd dismissed the disappointed students from class. Rhoda lingered behind, waiting to give Miss Todd her Bible back.
 She looked in the front cover of the Bible, reading the simple inscription,
 To Elizabeth Joy Todd, from your Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Wilkes.
 May you always remember to treasure and study God’s Word, commit to memory the verses you find within it, and may there never be a Sunday when you forget to take the most precious of books to your Sunday School class with you.
 Rhoda looked up, surprised to find Miss Todd watching her.
 “Your teacher gave you this Bible?” She asked.
 Miss Todd nodded, her smile causing the wrinkles around her eyes to deepen. “Yes, many years ago, when I was nine years old.” She took the Bible gently. “I’ve kept it all these years, because I learned long ago that this is the entire reason for having Sunday school in the first place.”
 Rhoda frowned. “The Bible is good, but it’s fun to have crafts and cookies and play games.” She pointed out.
 “Yes, those things are fun. But there is a time and place for everything, and an order in which we should do things. When we finish our lesson, Rhoda, what do we do?” Miss Todd asked.
 “We have a quiz.”
 “And when we finish our quiz?”
 “We get a treat.”
 Miss Todd nodded and reached into her bag again. She pulled out a box of cookies. “If I had seen that my class had done a good job of keeping up with their memory verses and remembered to bring their Bibles, I had special cookies for each one of you.” She said, sighing. “I wanted them to be a reward for doing a good job of learning to treat God’s Word as the most important reason for coming to class. Treats are nice, as are fun things to make or color. But there’s a lot of things we need to learn, and that is what Sunday school is for.”
 Rhoda looked at the cookies and wished she had remembered her Bible.
 “I guess we will try again once our class is back to routine.” Miss Todd said with a smile. “I had hoped that while I was gone, you all would remember your memory verses and Bibles.”
 Rhoda nodded and turned to walk to the church sanctuary.
 I should have remember my Bible, Rhoda thought. Mom and Dad had never had to remind her before Miss Kate had come, so they never thought to for the past three months. Now Rhoda would have to learn all over again.
    The Next Sunday
 Rhoda walked quietly to her Sunday school room. Her Bible was tucked securely in her arms and she had worked all week to memorize the long verse Miss Todd had given them. She repeated it once more under her breath to be sure she knew it,
 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
 “Galatians 6:9. Galatians 6:9...” Rhoda repeated.
 Miss Todd smiled at her from the Sunday school table. “Rhoda, good morning.”
 “I want to say my verse, right now before I forget.” Rhoda said, planting her feet firmly in the doorway.
 Miss Todd nodded. “Go ahead.”
 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9.”
 Miss Todd smiled. “Perfect. Let’s see if you can say it by the time class is done.” She said, as other children began walking up behind Rhoda.
 Rhoda could hardly concentrate on the lesson, for fear she would forget the verse and Miss Todd would think she hadn’t tried hard enough to remember it.
 “Rhoda, do you want to say our verse first for this week?” Miss Todd asked, as she reached down in her bag.
 Rhoda stood up. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9.” She smiled and sat down.
 Miss Todd nodded and produced a bag of chocolates. She gave a handful to Rhoda. “Perfect. Congratulations, Rhoda.”
 Rhoda looked at the chocolates and smiled. The treats were nice, but there was something in her teacher’s smile of approval that meant more to her.
 Before Rhoda could leave class when they finished, Miss Todd stopped her.
 “I have had this waiting for a long time now, but I think you understand well enough that you have earned it.” She said, handing Rhoda a paper wrapped package.
 Rhoda frowned and tore the paper away. A beautiful leather bound Bible gleamed in the sunlight. Rhoda’s eyes widened. This was the Bible she had hoped to win three months ago.
 “Read the inscription.” Miss Todd instructed.
 To Rhoda Anne Jones, from your Sunday School teacher, Miss Todd.
 May you always remember to treasure and study God’s Word, commit to memory the verses you find within it, and may there never be a Sunday when you forget to take the most precious of books to your Sunday School class with you.
    Thirty Years Later
 Mrs. Whitley laid her Bible on the table next to the children’s Bible lesson book. Her class would be arriving any moment for the Sunday school time, and she needed to hurry. She put out a page with a short quiz on last Sunday’s lesson in each spot, along with a little cup of crackers, knowing that the McCormick twins would be asking for a snack as always.
 She heard the patter of feet running down the hallway, and knew her first students would be arriving at any moment. She put on her warmest smile and waited to see who was first.
 “Morning!” Jimmy Pettus laid his well worn Bible onto the table. “Can I get the memory verse done?”
 Mrs. Whitley smiled. “Alright, Jimmy, go ahead.” She said, folding her hands in front of her and listening carefully. Bless his little heart, Jimmy’s front tooth caused the cutest of lisps as he recited his memory verse, she thought.
 “And let uth not be weary in well doing: for in due theason we thall reap, if we faint not. Galathians 6:9.” Jimmy grinned as if he had just recited the Gettysburg address.
 “Very good, Jimmy.” Mrs. Whitley nodded. “You know, I remember a long time ago, there was a little girl who was just as proud as you to say that verse. She got a very special reward for saying it, too. So, if you can say it at the end of class just as well as you did now, I’ll give you the same reward.”
 “Really? Cool!” Jimmy sat down and stared. “Who elth thaid it?”
 Mrs. Whitley smiled. “Me. A very long time ago. And this is what my teacher gave me.” She pulled a lovingly worn Bible from her Sunday school tote, and let Jimmy hold it. She wasn’t worried about the young boy ruining her Bible, he had always been careful of his own hand-me-down Bible.
 “Wow! Thith is yourth?” He asked. “It lookth old.”
 Mrs. Whitley nodded. “It is. It’s thirty years old.” She nodded. “And I’m going to give a Bible to the one who knows all their verses by heart, just like my teacher gave this Bible to me.”
 “ ‘To Rhoda Anne Joneth, from your Thunday Thchool teacher, Mith Todd…’” Jimmy looked up. “But your name ithn’t Rhoda Anne Joneth.”
 Mrs. Whitley smiled. “It was thirty years ago. Now it’s Rhoda Anne Whitley.”
 Jimmy pondered that statement as the other children began coming in. Mrs. Whitley smiled and greeted each one, wondering which of them would get the beautiful Bible she had waiting in her Sunday school bag, wrapped just as Miss Todd had wrapped her Bible thirty years ago.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Time to Meet.... Priscilla

I thought it was high time I introduce to you Priscilla, my best friend and one of my top advisors. So, I'll start right from the beginning:
Priscilla is the 4th child of fourteen, and lives a few states away from me. We met through my crochet and knitting website, and have been close friends ever since (well, once we were assured neither of us were creepy internet stalkers, that isπŸ˜‰) She may be younger than me, but you'd never know it- she's a much wiser and mature person than I am. And, she is one of the prettiest girls I know.
When it comes to best friends, Priscilla is the best. When something is going wrong, Priscilla is the first to be there with comfort, suggestions to help, and prayers. When there's something happy going on, Priscilla is the first to rejoice with me. When I'm struggling with a decision, Priscilla is there to offer her advice and, again, prayers.
We don't always agree on everything, but that hasn't stopped our friendship. Why would it? We have too much in common to let a couple things separate us!
And you want to talk about skills, Priscilla can cook WAY better than me. I've seen her cookies, ice creams, breads, pizza doughs.... This girl can cook.
In short, Priscilla is the friend everyone needs. She's funny, she's smart, she's encouraging, she's genuinely caring... Did I also mention she knits? Well, now I did.
I know she's going to protest all of this, but I'm telling y'all the truth. Priscilla is my sister by heart, my sister in the Lord. When I count my best friends and blessings, Priscilla is always one of my first to be thankful for.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Importance of Waiting

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love weddings. The dresses, the flowers, the decorating... I just love weddings. Perhaps this is because I haven't had my own wedding yet. Oh, I've planned it. I've got just about everything ready for my wedding that I can possibly prepare without even having a young man!
But I'm also glad God has had me wait as long as I have to get married. I'll soon be a quarter of a century old, which (in my family) is the longest a girl has gone without getting married. Part of this is due to the fact that there are a lack of young men in my church and town (and even less that are Godly young men) and the other part is that God knew I was not ready yet, so I've been made to wait.
Hmm, wait, not made... Let me change that....
I've been given opportunity to wait.
Waiting while trying to find your future spouse is not a burden, it's a blessing. As single young Christians, we are given a great opportunity to serve the Lord completely with our lives before we have the responsibility of a family and home. We have family obligations, of course, but we are not attached in the same way our parents or married friends and family are to one place.
Waiting is hard, yes. There have been days when I could have cried because I was so tired of waiting. But waiting with the view in mind that I can use this time to serve the Lord and not sit around and mope is wonderful. And yes, I do hope to get married (no one wants to wait forever) but until God sees fit to send a young man my direction, I'm happy!
A while back a friend and I had a Bible study on being content. It was around that time that I finally learned to be content in being single. I still plan my wedding, still crochet and sew things for my future home, but I don't sit around dwelling on it 24 hours a day anymore. I'm content to wait for God to say "Alright, now you are ready." and send the right guy in God's Time, not mine.
Don't get me wrong. If I could have been married five years ago, I probably would have. But it would have been a mistake. I can see now where I needed to grow up, where I needed to mature spiritually and mentally. The person I was at 20 years old is not the person I am now, praise the Lord. I probably still have things I need to learn or grow up in before the Lord decides I'm ready to get married, and so I'm using this time of waiting to find those things and prepare in them.
There's nothing wrong with marrying young if God directs a couple to, but there's something to be said for those of us who are given the chance to wait and grow up before we choose our spouse, or rather, God chooses them.
So, now that I've made my post on being single and content, I guess I need to go help with breakfast. Christmas is coming and I need to help plan a dinner, get a tablecloth washed and figure out how I'm going to get up before my brother big J and wake him up before he gets me (it's our little tradition)

I may not.... But.....

I may not have a palace,
But I have a home.
I may not have the perfect family,
But I have a family.
I may not have a thousand friends,
But I have Godly friends.
I may not have riches untold,
But I have salvation and that's most important.
I may not be the most eloquent speaker,
But my words are spoken in truth and kindness.
I may not be the most beautiful girl in the world,
But my Saviour created me and He made me how He wanted me to look.
I may not write the best books,
But if they make someone smile, cry or laugh, I'll be happy.
I may not cook the best food,
But I have food to cook and that's a blessing.
I may not be the smartest person,
But I know what real wisdom is and what isn't.
I may not be the best Sunday school teacher,
But 'my kids' make my heart joyful each week.
I may not be the greatest of writers,
But whatever I write, I'm writing for the glory of God.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thankful in December for....

I want to try post a list of what I'm thankful for each month from now on. With December being as busy as it is for my family, I'm putting it up tonight instead of at the end of the month. It's important that we don't forget to be thankful after Thanksgiving day is over, but we thank God for everything He's given us every day, every week and every month of the year. So, here's my top 10 things to be thankful for in December list:
1. My salvation. I wouldn't be here today if God hadn't saved me. There's nothing I'm more thankful for in this whole wide world than Jesus Christ dying for me on the cross, rising again three days later, and forgiving me of my sins. This is a precious gift, one freely given to anyone who will accept it!
2. My mom. Few people are blessed to have as good a mom as I have. She's raised her children to be good, Godly young people who love their family and Lord, to be different from the world around them, and to be honest above all else. I'm so thankful for God giving me Mom, and I love her so much.
3. My siblings, all six of them. I won't name them (for family safety and because I don't want to embarrass them) but K, Big J, T, Medium J, Little J and V... I love them all, from the ones who are taller than me, to the ones that are shorter than me 😊
4. My friends. Again, won't name them all, but from Maine to Virginia, from Texas to Oklahoma, from New Zealand to right here in GA, I've been blessed with some of the best, Godly friends on this planet. God knew who I needed to be my friend, and who needed me, and He blessed me with meeting some of the best people I will ever know!
5. My adopted uncle and aunt. They're my second defenders (second only to Mom, K and Big J) and I wouldn't know what I was doing without them. Besides, I need at least one person to keep my vanity about my hair under control, isn't that right, Uncle C?
6. My church family. I've got a wonderful church family. They're good, kind hearted people with a love for the Lord, and I'm so blessed to be a part of this family!
7. My hands. Using your hands isn't something most people think of from day to day. We don't normally stop and thank the Lord for being able to brush our teeth, for being able to stir the oatmeal, or do the laundry. But having hands to do the chores, to crochet, to write, to text, to drive, to take care of my siblings... this is something I'm truly grateful to the Lord for. I pray He would bless these hands with many more years of service for Him and to care for those I love.
8. My Sunday school class. I know every teacher must say this, but I really do teach the best Sunday school class in the world! My little ladies and gentlemen are some of the best kids, and though we may get too giggly from time to time (Some of our story pictures are drawn pretty funny!) I wouldn't trade teaching them for anything in the world.
9. My home. It's not a palace, it's not a mansion, it's not even the best house on the street, but it's my home. It's warm in winter, cool in summer, there's electricity and running water. No holes in the ceiling, no cracks in the floors, and we have real windows and doors. We're tightly packed, there's rarely a moment of quiet, and this old house has it's problems, but I'm thankful to have someplace to lay my head each night in safety and comfort.
10. Chocolate covered cherries. Yes, I know, a major change of thankfulness from the previous nine, but December is the only month of the year when I get these, and I dearly love them. Give me a box of Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Cherries and a bouquet of yarn balls and I'll be a happy girl all of December πŸ˜‰

So that's my list. I'd love to hear what some of the things you are thankful for are!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cooking With Missy

Cooking was always a challenge for me, up until the last couple years. I could cook, I just wasn't great at it. Thankfully, my mom is very patient and has taught me well. Since we haven't ate breakfast here yet, and food is on my mind, I thought I'd share some of my cooking stories.

First story: Chicken Veronica, also known as Yucky Chicken Floating in Orange Marmalade. Yep, that's right. Green grapes, orange marmalade, chicken broth and a bunch of seasonings, to be more specific. It all started with our yearly cooking project when I was still in school. Mom would have us pick recipes (mostly from her Taste of Home magazines) and we'd have to go grocery shopping for the ingredients, and then plan the cooking process. I decided "Hey, I'll try this recipe from a magazine with absolutely no picture! It's got a fancy name, it must be good..." Looking back I can see that might have been a mistake. I really should have been clued in when the ingredients listed grapes and marmalade, but I was really young and I didn't think anything of it.
The big day came, I got my things together and started on the main dish, Chicken Veronica. I was also juggling rice pilaf, blueberry bread and white chocolate raspberry mousse, so I might not have been paying total attention still. The chicken breasts got cooked, and I began adding the other ingredients like the recipe called for. At this point, it wasn't so bad. It didn't smell bad, and the orange marmalade (which I had never had before) surely wouldn't stay sweet, right? Wrong.
Half an hour later, after simmering for the amount of time on the recipe, I lifted the lid to find the worst smelling, worse looking mess I've ever seen. The grapes looked like floating eyeballs in a puddle of ahem... to be honest, it looked like someone had thrown up. And the smell... I'll never forget the smell...
Yes, we did still eat... just not that. The rice pilaf was ok, the blueberry bread good despite the blueberries all sinking to the bottom, and the white chocolate mousse was delicious. But to this day, my mom doesn't trust me to pick recipes from magazines anymore, and the next cooking project I did, I had to pick 'normal' foods.

So I don't have a second story, necessarily, but I do have some things I've learned that were funny to me. Maybe one will help you one day:
1. Don't add the sugar when making meringue right away. I learned this at Thanksgiving. Adding it too soon turns the whole mix into a loose foam without getting stiff like it should.
2. Grits, hard to master. Until the last three or four years, I couldn't make them. Actually, I was going to use them instead of birdseed at my wedding before I finally figured out how to cook them, because that was the only thing I could use them for.
3. No, you can't substitute everything in a recipe. Especially cake mixes. If it calls for Strawberry Jello, don't use Cranberry. Trust me. You ruin birthday cakes that way.
4. Pay attention when grilling cheese sandwiches. Otherwise you get nifty blackened sandwiches that your siblings won't eat.
5. Curry Chicken and Potatoes stains whatever it touches, be that your shirt, the rug, the plastic containers you store it in....
6. Yes, syrup is evil (in my opionion) so substitute blueberry or strawberry jelly on your pancakes, because it is delicious... and it's not syrup 😁
Last but not least...
7. A good meal is nothing without family to share it with. Take time to enjoy those family dinners each night, remember the family gathered around the breakfast table, and thank God for the blessing of having someone to cook for and eat with.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My Stands and Standards, Part 1

I wanted to share with y'all a few of my personal standards and stands I take. Before I do, I want to make it clear: these are my personal convictions, and I don't hold anyone else to them, nor judge them if they are different. This is simply how I feel and what I take a stand on.

The first couple I wanted to share was my stands on clothing and modesty. These two kind of group together so I thought it was best to explain them at the same time.
Starting with clothing....
I don't wear pants. Yeah, I know, there's a lot of mixed feelings in churches about women and girls wearing pants. I don't judge anyone for wearing pants, but I also ask that they don't judge me for not wearing them. It's a personal conviction that I stand very firmly on. I have worn past in the past, as a matter of fact I wore them until I was about 12/13. That's when I made the decision to quit wearing them because I felt convicted over them. I've not worn pants since. And yes, I can do just about anything in a skirt- I just have to vary the style. I've rode a horse, I've done yard work, and I've rode a bike in a skirt. I've even gone swimming in a skirt before (I don't usually go swimming because I don't like my hair getting in the water). I do wear culottes, but only when I'm doing work like scrubbing out showers or climbing up ladders and such.
And for the record, my mom and sisters all wear pants at home. Mom also lets my baby sister wear pants out because she's still very little and doesn't yet understand that skirts require you not to roll around on the ground or do tumbles πŸ˜‰
In comes modesty...
Yes, I prefer that girls and ladies wear skirts, BUT I've seen times when they would have been better covered by pants that a skirt. It's called modesty. If a skirt is so short you might as well have not worn it, if a dress is so tight you basically have it painted on, I'd rather you be in a pair of loose fitting pants. Modesty is VERY important to me. If a shirt is so small I have to squeeze into it, or a skirt so snug it outlines my backside, I'm not wearing it. No skin showing where it shouldn't, no gaps between skirt and skirt... I'm going to be covered and covered modestly. This is a Bible conviction. The best way I've heard it explained, when you're learning modesty, is this: Would you wear that if Jesus were sitting across from you? Would you feel comfortable in His presence in those clothes? I know that not everyone shares this view, but it's important to me to dress modestly like a lady and keep from drawing the wrong kind of attention.

Ok, so it's school time now at my house, so I'll finish up later!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's Never too Late


Hello, everybody. This is Melissa/Missy's friend, Bethany.
I'm completely honored that she asked me to write a guest blog for her, I'm definitely not qualified but am extremely humbled that she thought of me when it came to guest-blogging. 

Today I wanted to talk to you about my personal testimony, something that a lot of my family doesn't even know but I know without a shadow of a doubt that it can be helpful to somebody out there who reads this. So thank you, in advance, for your time reading this.


     As someone who has grown up in church their entire life, I knew the answer to every possible Bible question you could ask a 5 year old. Which also meant, I knew how to ask questions about salvation to stay up late at night and that's exactly what I did. In November of 1999 I made a profession of faith in front of my family at 10pm, because I wanted to stay up. As a 5 year old I had no idea that was the worst decision I ever made.
     Let's fast forward to 12 year old me, who was still the good little church-goer and absolutely terrified of death. Not hell, but death. I would get upset and cry myself to sleep not knowing what was wrong, but at the time, I knew I was a good girl and there's no way God could kill me so young.
     I went through that for about 6 years, I had the worst possible friends you could think of in public high school, but I brought them to church and led many to the Lord. I didn't involve myself in things they did or activities they participated in. One day at church, at 18 years old (finally in a private school for my senior year) I realized I wasn't saved. I realized I was the girl who knew all the right answers, I knew how to lead someone to the Lord but I didn't know how to have a relationship with God because I wasn't saved. If you're not saved, a relationship is impossible.
     That year completely turned my life around, I got the christian character award at school, went off to Bible college super ready for whatever God had for me and excited to achieve it. Just to be 2 weeks into college and completely wrap my car around a tree. How could that happen? I was so on fire and ready to serve God. My health after that started getting really bad and my dad drove to Arkansas to pick me up from Bible college.
     I was clueless when I got home, nothing no longer made sense to me. I remember nights crying out, asking God why and felt like He wasn't hearing me. I struggled so much when it came to prayer and in the midst of this all I got a job back home at a fast food restaurant. I was still the good little girl, wearing skirts all the time, teaching Sunday School but I felt so lost for someone who was saved (and knew for sure I was saved.)
     Suddenly, I started searching for a feeling. Not the truth or knowledge, but a "feeling." I looked for anything or anybody to "complete" me or make me just feel anything. I turned to a guy. Knowing full-well I promised myself and my parents I wouldn't kiss a guy until my wedding day, I thought maybe just a kiss would give me that feeling. Maybe this guy would give me this feeling. A kiss led to more, and suddenly all I was feeling was empty and depressed. Once the depression sank in, I felt nothing except numbness. I would cry out, praying for anything and when I didn't hear God or get the answer I liked, I would run further. I looked for that feeling in the pain of a tattoo needle and in that I got a bunch of literal reminders of the pain I went through in that area of my life. Thinking that wasn't enough, I searched for completeness in the bottom of a bottle. I tried drowning out my sorrows in alcohol for almost a year because I was so confused. Why would God let one of His children run this far?
     I say all that to say this, trials are brought into our lives to make us more like Christ. There is no temptation we are tempted with that God wasn't tempted with. I felt like it was an over-night awakening. I knew someone had to of been praying for me because I knew God was speaking to me, specifically to me. I was so far and thought God didn't care. The truth is, God gives us the choice to do as we please. We have that right as His children to do whatsoever we will, but He wants us to choose the path He would have for us. So please hear me when I say, you can never be too far for God to not chase you. God chastens those HE LOVES. If He didn't love you, He would not chasten you. The only thing that can truly complete you is the Lord. The things I did completely break my heart and I have those reminders (on me, literally). Now I'm serving God in ways I never thought I could and for that I'm grateful. Those things I did and have been through just show how strong my Lord is. He gets the power in my life and I pray He gets the power in your's too.
     Even with a rough past, you can still become a Proverbs 31 woman.

He chastens. He forgives. He loves.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hope Chest

What's the best way for a single young lady to prepare her future home, when she doesn't yet know when or where it will be? In my opinion, it's a hope chest.
I was given a beautiful handmade hope chest when I was about 17/18 years old. Since then, I've worked faithfully to fill it- so faithfully it's now overflowed into my walk-in closet and under my bed! It may have started out as just odds and ends, a collection of mix matched dishes and some items with sentimental value, but now my hope chest is practically a new home in a box kit. I've even had to create an inventory list so that I don't buy duplicates of items I already have, because I've bought or received so many things for it, I can't hardly keep track of them all anymore.
My kitchen will be well stocked, thanks to my mom. She's always thinking of things I will need or would be helpful for my kitchen, plus a ton of little things that are just for fun. My mini doughnut maker, mini pie maker and Hot Shot water heater will get much use, Mom, I promise you. There's my everyday dishes, my flatware, my many casserole dishes, my beautiful glass mixing bowl set... These are the things I'll use daily. And then there's the linens for my kitchen. I love crocheting pot holders, so I've probably got a dozen in all different colors and types, and keep adding to it when I need to use up scrap yarn (Did I mention I collect crocheted pot holders?).
Then there's my doily collection, my 'pretties'... The things I'll use to dress up my home. Antiques make me happy, so I've got a few almost antique items that I hope will become family heirlooms. My family Bible and my little library of books will have a special place in my future home, as will the few pieces of furniture I've got or received especially for my own home.
And of course, I've got a few things put away for any children I might be blessed with. Baby blankets, booties, hats, quilts... I've put a little of everything away for my children. I want them to know their mother thought and prayed for them long before they were even born, just like my mother did.
I didn't forget recipes and information. I've got a stock of home remedy books, emergency medical manuals and a recipe box that will help me keep my family healthy and full.
One of my most treasured items in my hope chest is my collection of letters and books of letters written to my future husband. I've been writing to him (though I've yet to find out who he is) since I was 16 years old. As you can guess, I've got a stack of books and a fat envelope of letters piled up by now.
My friends also contribute a lot of things for my hope chest, be that actual items or ideas. My friend Priscilla has given my many ideas for things I never thought of. My friend Bethany made me think about putting away things for my future husband.
I've seen a lot of lists online about what should go in a hope chest. Some of them make good suggestions, but I'd say this is an individual decision. Fill your hope chest with what you want in it, with what you find useful or necessary. Young ladies, watch your mom's kitchen. What does she use, what do you use? Put those things away.
And young men, it doesn't hurt for you to have a hope chest (of sorts) either. Tools, things you want for your future home... Just saying, us ladies aren't the only ones who can put things away for our future homes πŸ˜‰

What are your feelings and thoughts and ideas for a hope chest? I'd love to hear them!