Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Eli! And Aunt Shelley!

April is a full month of Birthdays!!

Friday the 26th was my sweet little nephew's 3rd birthday!

Eli,
Your chuckle and smile are huge bright spot in my life! I look forward to your hugs! I LOVE the way you run to me when you see me yelling "LaLa! LaLa!" 

I love you buddy!

I love his laugh!!








Those big blue eyes get me everytime!!
 
Before I go, I have to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Aunt Shelley today!! She is all a niece could ask for in an aunt! She has taught me to be the best Aunt I could be! :) I love you Shell! SO proud of the work of God in your life!! 

Come back later this week as I start the recap of vacation and suggest some places to go when your in Myrtle Beach! 

Until tomorrow my friends!

Staying Hopeful,
Aunt LaLa

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What does your Faith mean to you, Facebook?

Hey it's me! Oh I know I'm probably relaxing by the pool right now on the beach.... :)

Was not that some great guest post! Seriously check these ladies out :)

So I posed the question "What does your faith mean to you?" On twitter and facebook. These are some of the answers I got... 

Lisa: Trusting in God 100% of the time

Josh: everything I am, with out it I'm nothing.

Sharon: Trust, confidence in our Lord! Keeps my fear away!

Frances: It's what that takes me through each and every day. It's what gives me the strength to go on and do the impossible when in the natural I feel like all hope is gone. It's my faith in Jesus that gives me the hope and peace needed to survive in this present world and gives me joy in my heart. And my faith in Jesus is what will take me to Heaven when my life here is over...It's who I am at the core of my being.

Pat: Trust!

So, I ask you bloggers, what does YOUR faith mean to you??

Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What does your Faith meant to you, Melanie?

Today's guest post is from my dearest friend Mel! Melanie and I are best buds! We have been best friends since we were nine years old. Not many are so blessed to have a best friend that are for life. We have been been through everything together! We stood with each other against the world (so we thought) , we have made "Buck of our Lives" videos, we have laughed until we were crying, cried on each other shoulders, been there to cheer each other on, we have seen each other at our worst and been honest enough to tell them so (LOL) ... We were also there standing as witnesses on each of our wedding days.  I love you best bud!
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What my faith means to me.

If you've ever mistakenly left home without your coat during an unexpected cold front, you know the feeling I'm about to describe.
You check the weather, you step outside your door, you see the sunshine peeking through the window. You say to yourself "Its a little cool but its only the morning, it will warm up."
You leave your house with maybe a sweater only to find, when you arrive at your destination, that you are miserably freezing. To make matters worse, you have a day planned OUTDOORS.

 Without my faith, my life would be like taking on a freezing winters day without a coat: totally unprepared for the elements that await me. 

Like that coat, faith is my covering. I am covered by God's love and grace and shielded from the bitter, cold emptiness that I often witness in the lives of people around me. 

Like that coat, faith is my comfort. It makes the harshness of life bearable and keeps me stable on the inside when the world around me is in chaos. 

Like that coat, faith keeps me stylin'. No, I don't mean looking hot!  I mean my faith enables me to look the way I truly desire to look, reflecting the character of Christ by being honest, gracious, loving and kind, things I couldn't be without it. 

I've tried making my way through many a miserable, cold day without a coat only to find myself borrowing one or hitting up a cheap store for ANYTHING that will keep me warm. Similarly, if we try to approach the world without faith in Christ as our covering, it will be all to easy to buy into whatever else is being sold out there, we'll look for ANYTHING to bring us comfort, cover us and gives a sense that we are "good."

Faith to me, is security that I am prepared for whatever may come. Like that coat on a winter's day, I can not leave home without it!
 
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Thank so much for sharing Mel!! What a way to look at your faith? I love the concept and analogy. 

Go check out Mel's blog over at Small Adventures in Being Along

Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What does your Faith mean to you, Frances?

I've known Frances since I was about 17. We went to church together and I became friends with her daughter. I taught her little boy (who is not so little anymore) in the pre-school Sunday school class. Francis is such a sweet spirit. She was always so kind and giving you a smile. I have such fond memories of her and my mother talking. I remember her and my mother heading up a "Tea of Pure Joy" where we were taught abstinence and what plan God had laid before us. I remember the time that we had a lock in for the girls and was teaching how to cook. She reminds of the women in Proverbs 31. I'm honored to have her share with us.
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First I want to say how honored I am that Lauren (Aunt Lala) has asked me to write a guest post for her wonderful blog.
  Lauren asked that I share about what my faith means to me, and that is always a special topic.  When I think about faith I think about the things that try our faith.  The Bible says that our faith  will be tried. It’s during those hard times that you will hold on to your faith and come out stronger in your belief or you will just let go and be like a leaf blowing along with the wind.  There will be no root to your faith.
I can remember as a child listening to the older folks talk about their faith and not fully understanding how they could feel so close to someone they had never seen.  Well as time has passed and I have walked along my journey, I have had quite a few stones in my path.   It’s been during those times that I have come to understand that Jesus may not be visible to my natural eye, but He is very real and visible to my spirit. 
I, like everyone, have had many disappointments, loss of family and friends and hurts that went deep.   Eight years ago I walked through the greatest fear I had always had: the loss of a child.   I had been blessed with 3 children and when I found out I was expecting number 4 I was thrilled.   I had always experienced sickness during my pregnancies, so when I began having extreme nausea, I wasn’t alarmed.  I made the normal appointments to see the doctor and I’d tell him about my sickness and he said that was a sign of a healthy pregnancy.  

Early on I gained 30 pounds and was so sick I couldn’t make it from the couch to the bathroom without having to lie down on the hall floor.  I was so nauseated that the smell of my own skin made me want to vomit.  When I was in my 4th month I started spotting, the first indication to the doctor that something was wrong.  I went in for an ultra sound and was told the dreaded news, there was no heartbeat.   It was at this same time that I learned I was expecting multiples.  There were 3 sacks, and no heart beat in any.  They had been dead for a while and were poisoning my system.  I lost them the next day and it was the strongest test of my faith I had ever been through.
I had always dreamed of having twins or triplets, now I have them, just not here on earth. Now when I see someone with multiples, my heart melts. When you are having your hopes and dreams die right before your eyes, it can challenge the strongest of Faiths.   I trusted the Lord to help me through, and believe me, Satan was there to make me doubt everything I believed in. 
I am now 8 years into this and I can honestly say, the Lord has been with me every step of the journey. At the time I couldn’t see how I could keep on going, the pain and emptiness of my heart was so great. I would pray for strength and the Lord provided.   I couldn’t see it at the time, but looking back I can see he was holding me and guiding me day by day.  Our faith walk isn’t something you do in a hurry, it’s lived out day by day. 

Through those dark days I would read verses that assured me of God’s love and tenderness all the while in my mind I would hear the words, If God cared He wouldn’t have let this happen.  The Bible lets us  know that the thief (Satan) is there to try to steal, kill and destroy.  But Jesus said I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.  I chose to look at where my babies were rather than looking at where they were not.  Was it easy? No, but I believe it was vital.  When we look at events in our life in the overall scheme of things and put them into the perspective of eternity, it changes everything.
Every day I think of the babies in Heaven and am so thankful that they are in such good care.  I know that one day I will see them and will have an eternity to be with them.  I have come to realize that these babies will not know pain, heartache or sin.  All they will ever know is Heavenly bliss.
With each step I take on life’s journey, I realize more and more my need for the Master.  He is not only my Savior, but my closest friend.  He is so kind and gentle and full of compassion when we are hurting.  I have also come to know that He is a gentleman and will not invade your life if you don’t invite him in.  So many days I have felt him touch my spirit and give me peace and strength.  I can’t explain it, but I know it’s real.  I have experienced peace in the midst of hurt, joy in the midst of sorrow, and I can say that only Jesus brings such comfort.  I know the old hymn  Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus is a favorite to the older generation and after walking down the paths of life I have come to understand it’s meaning so much more.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

There are so many things in life that we can never understand or figure out with our natural minds.  Learning to trust Jesus with every part of my life has been a journey that not only has caused me to rethink my beliefs, but has made me realize that I need him more than anything else.  I could have everything I thought I needed in this life, but not have Jesus, and in the end I would have nothing. But if I trust him with my life, then in the end I will have everything.

2 years after the babies went to Heaven the Lord blessed our home with a precious little girl.  She has such a huge personality and fills our days with joy and love.  Every time I look at her it reminds me that God didn’t promise that the storm clouds wouldn’t gather, or that heartaches wouldn’t come, but He will make the sun to shine bright again, if we trust him.

I couldn’t make it without my Faith!  It is what has pulled me through so many storms in life and what will take me on to the great reward.  Our faith was meant to be shared, to encourage one another, to help those who are struggling with the hardships of life.  We were never created to walk this road alone, but to walk it hand in hand with the one who created us.  I want to encourage you, if you know Jesus, hold his hand a little tighter.  If you don’t know him, today is a great day to get acquainted with him.  He is standing with outstretched arms for all who will believe.   God Bless

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What did I tell you? Her faith is so inspring. Thank you Frances for sharing!!

Go and check her out on her blog Abundantly Blessed Momma

Don't forget tomorrow another guest blog, and this my friends is not one to miss either :)

Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Monday, April 22, 2013

What does your faith mean to you?

What a time it's been this last few months! Between school, work, and life it seems my life has been a whirlwind! 

So guess what?

We are going on vacation... actually when you read this I am already on my way. 

I thought about what to do this week, and I knew what was on my heart.

God has been showing me many things over these last few months... I'm learning and he is molding. 

My passion, my drive, my dreams are all founded in my faith. 

When it came to being employed I prayed and trusted that God would lead and guide me.
When it came to choosing our church, we prayed and trusted that God would guide. 

Everything is wrapped in my faith. 

Choosing my spouse. Eating right. Trips. Bills. Friends. My work at my job. Our Hope. Marriage.

My faith has given me strength. Given me Hope. Given me peace. Given me joy. 

In essence... 

My faith is my LIFE 

Join me this week as I have two great guest bloggers for Tuesday and Wednesday who will be sharing what their faith means to them.

Staying Hopeful,
Aunt LaLa

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prayers...

Linking up with


and


For 

Tuesday's Prayers

There is so many things that are going on at the same time and it is very overwhelming at times. 
Some days are better then others... 
If you read my POST yesterday then you know yesterday was one of those darker days. 
But I felt the prayers, and God intervened and showed me he cared (as he always does.)

I went to a funeral yesterday. One of our Jr High kids lost his father last week. My mood yesterday was not one that went along with trying to console. I was hurting. But there were people I loved hurting worse. 

The funeral was a great experience for sure! It really was a celebration of life! It was definitely not a funeral I have been accustomed to, but I hope when my funeral comes that its that way. People being ministered to and finding peace and strength from God. Also with a few laughs :)

I was really stressed out about  work as well yesterday, there are so many questions and deadlines. 

But then AGAIN today, God went  before me and smoothed the crooked place and made things fit into place. 

He is so faithful!! 

Then after a scare with my sister Kim ( who went into pre-mature labor yesterday @ only 31 weeks) was actually sent home after ALL labor stopped!! Praise God for that!

I do have a couple of request...

My sister Kim , little Nathan needs to stay in mommy for at least 3 or 4 more weeks to be OK... It would be WONDERFUL if he stayed the full 40 weeks! 

My job, I am employed under a grant. So I'm praying if it be the Lords will for the grant to be approved for another year! I love this job, and feel the program is helping some of the kids. 

My Pastor, he has been fighting some health issues. He strength has been dwindled. He needs our prayers. Pray for healing. 

Is there anything I can pray for you for? Just let me know. You can email me if you would rather... auntlala25 [at] gmail 

Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Monday, April 15, 2013

11 months...10 hours.... 53 minutes

The fifteenth passes every month without a second thought to most. 

For me its another marker of my baby being in Heaven. 
It is a marker that I'm another month stronger. 

 It will be a year next month that we lost our precious baby, Hope. 

I've been thinking about this alot lately. I think about where I was last year at this time, not realizing I was about to embark on the MOST painful journey of my life thus far. I've been going back and forth about what exactly I'm going to do next month when we reach 1 year mark. J and I have talked about this numerous times, as always he wants to support what I want to do. 

He is such a gift. 

My life is busy. Full of laughter and people I love. Full of work and stress. Full of school, cohorts, and projects. 

The closer the 1 year mark gets the more bad days I'm having. 
Of course there has been death around me these past couple months. Not me directly but loses for people I love. Naturally, that will bring up some grief in me. There are some negative thoughts today, however I'm trying to push on and not think on them. 

I'm giving myself permission to have a good cry later, but for now I have other things I have to make it through today. 

 But the pain in my heart is a hard thing to ignore. 

I'm thankful that I have my husband. J loves me for me. I know he will be my strength today when I need him and in the future. Our marriage has changed so much since losing Hope. It truly was a testing time... But we CHOSE to let God heal our hearts and work in our marriage. So for now we are a two person family and that is OK.. at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself of.

 Until tomorrow... 

Aunt LaLa

Friday, April 12, 2013

Another one bites the dust...

Well, I've done it....

I went from 37 followers to 36 on my GFC

Oh well, I guess thats the way it goes :)

In other news I go on vacation in ONE WEEK!!!! AAAHHH!!

So ready, this will be my first REAL vacation in 5 years!

Did I tell you that I'm on Youtube? Well I am... Here it is enjoy! I'm practicing my skills :)
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Liebster award x2 continued

OK, so yesterday I posted my first set of questions for my Liebster award! Again thank you Eloquent Rambles for this honor :) Go check her out! :)

I decided to edit the rules :) I know the idea is give these people questions to answer but I'm going to forgo that part, however, I do encourage you to visit these blogs! 

Awesome Blogs I read:

Abundantly Blessed Momma : This is a friend of mine who I adore. She is one the sweetest ladies and her love for the Lord makes me smile!

Amazing Grapes : Emily is very candid and I love her sense of humor!

Broken Pieces Outreach Ministries : I know this ministry personally. What a great thing they do. Seriously go check them out!

Grown2Worship: This family is an inspiration to me! From death of their own child to adopting 2 children and wanting more! Love this moms faith!

The Sweet Life of the Reeses: Sherry has been so kind to me and encouraging! I love reading about her growing family  [ I know no tag backs but whatever ; ) ]


Eloquent Rambles questions for me :)

1. what is your middle name (if you have one)?
Nicole

2. what time do you usually go to sleep?
Depends on how long I want to sleep... I need at lease 8.5 or 9 hours still. But it is usually between 11pm - 12am

3. what is your favorite quote?
"Nothing and no-one can upset God's plan" (Found in Job), 
"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent" Eleanor Roosevelt, 
"God never waste our pain" - Sharon Farruggia

4. what is your favorite breakfast food?
BACON!!! Love it! Turkey bacon is my new favorite!

5. what is your favorite smell?
Love Spell by Victoria Secret... Something about it just makes me smile 

6. how many pairs of shoes do you think you have? :)
hmm.. Probably 10 thats winter and summer

7. other than your phone, if you could have only one item, what would it be?
Bible

8. what is your favorite vegetable?
Hands down POTATOES! mmm... 

9. what do you consider a perfect day?
Relaxing outside next to water in a comfy chair there is a breeze and in my hand is a good book

10. what is your favorite shower/bath item?
Good soap! I love the smell of dial! 

11. other than a family member/spouse, who is a role model to you?
Jesus Christ - I try to model my life from his example. I'm still a BIG work in progress :)

Alright thanks for the reward again ladies!! 

Happy Wednesday! 

Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Liebster Award x2

So I feel extremely honored that I've been nominated for the Liebster award twice in 2 weeks! :)

I was nominated by my sweet blog friend Sherry over at The Sweet Life of the Reeses and I was nominated over at Eloquent Rambles ! Thanks ladies :) I will posting my answers for Sherry first then for Eloquent Rambles tomorrow :) and will list my nominations :)
So this is how it works:




The Rules



1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.

2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.

3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.

4. Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.

5. No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!
Random things about me :)
1. I can pick things up with my toes
2. My parents are still married after almost 30 years
3. I'm a middle child
4. I would love to be apart of a band to sing
5. I was a youth pastor at 21
6. My first date was with a guy a year younger then me lol
7. I remember accepting Christ at 3
8. I never went to highschool :)
9. I had my first job at 14
10. Our new car is the first car I've ever had in my name that was mobile :)

Ok, now my answers :)

From Sherry:

1.  What do you love most about yourself? Everyone should love something about themselves!
I love my determination to want to be better

2.  What is your favorite place you have ever been and why?
Probably Chicago and Lake Michigan - Chicago because it was just beautiful and so much fun! Lake Michigan, because it was just another reminder about how creative our creator is! Its amazing that it is a LAKE! I could not believe my eyes. 

3.  What do you enjoy doing most for fun?
Driving with music blaring, going to museums! Love learning!

4.  Why did you start blogging and how long have you been doing it?
I started blogging because I've always loved to write, and I thought this would be a good outlet for me. I've been blogging since 2003 - My first blog was a Xanga blog

5.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully a mom to my biological child or adopted. And have my license to be a therapist.

6.  What was your first job?
Chick-fil-a at 14yrs old

7.  What is your favorite holiday memory?
All the years my entire family on my moms side would spend the night at Grams and Gramps and we all would wake up Christmas morning! :)

8.  What is your favorite season of the year and why?
Spring and fall... Spring makes me just happy and fall reminds me when I fell in love

9.  What person has inspired you the most?
Wow, this is a tough one. Christ first because he was a man that was courageous, honorable, humble, loving, compassionate... I strive to be like him most.

10.  What is your favorite vacation memory?
Josh and I a couple of years ago stayed in the mountains at this cute qiant hotel. They were so nice and had a sweet church service. We drove to the state line on top of a mountain and went to the chimney's in the Smokey Mountains. Just something sweet about that trip. 

11.  What is your favorite sweet treat?
Dark chocolate covered expresso beans! Addicting! 
Hope everyone has a great Tuesday! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Conflict in your marriage

I remember when J and I first got married.... that first year held plenty of practice to deal with conflict.

Your first year of marriage is one of bliss, change, compromise, and making up ; )

Those who read my blog daily know that I am a student still. I'm working on a degree...

Honestly, I feel that my marriage is an atmosphere for learning just like my college class rooms. I have been taught more things about my self, life, love, death, and so on than in any other area of my life through our marriage.

God has used our marriage as a teaching tool for sure!

No matter how much you love each other.... Sorry to tell you there WILL be conflict. If there isn't then I would look at how honest you both are with each other. Because joining two different people in all of life's crazy happenings is not one of ease.

So, just some pointers that I've learned in my marriage to handle conflict... (I by no means have perfected these!)

1. Let your pride GO! - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

2. Say your sorry - a monologue you hear often in our house "I'm sorry that hurt your feelings, It was not my intention" "I'm sorry that I was being grumpy. I love you" :)

3. Admit when your wrong - talk it out. Explore why you reacted that way. Usually there is more then just what is on the surface

4. Pray, Pray, Pray together! This is so important. Let God be right in the middle of your marriage. Let him teach you through your spouse! He has taught me so many things by using J!

5. Be HONEST - even if you think it doesn't matter, or it may hurt their feelings. Be honest with the way you are feeling. Things buried only come back to haunt you or cause a drift between you. For example, J was trying to do some things differently for us. And I still was struggling with some left over emotion, I was so apprehensive about sharing that because I didn't want him to feel like a failure. However I really needed to talk it out. And we did. I just made I reassured him that I took notice of him working diligently on "us". After we both felt better and moved on! :)


I'll leave you with these five things. I am by no means an expert but I believe in marriage. I also believe that no matter how long you have been married, not matter young or old - YOU CAN HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE! It takes work and love, most of all God.

Linking up today with Happy Wives Club! Head over there and get some more tips on conflict!



Happy Wives Club


Also check out my new post on Happy Wives Club - Movie and a Picnic!


 Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday JJ!

Where does time go??

Today 4 years ago I was made an aunt for the second time. My nephew JJ was born... I love him so dearly!

This little boy is a fighter! He was born 4 weeks early and had collarbone broken during birth! Yet he was a good baby, didn't cry much, and had LOTS of smiles and giggles to offer!

His smile and laugh are the sweetest sounds! I miss him and wish he was in the same state as our family but alas... he has a home and a life in GA with his mommy :)

JJ,
LaLa loves you with all her heart! I cannot believe that 4years has already gone by!! You little guy are a ray of sunshine in our life. I know that God has great plans for you!!

Love you forever,

Aunt LaLa

Uncle R and JJ

Christmas 09

Mommy and JJ (Thanksgiving '10)

Trip to Ga 2009

Visit 3/2012

Lala holds JJ for the first time!

Visit 3/2012

Cousins :) 2012

JJ Dedication 2009

Aquarium '12- JJ, O, and Lala

Uncle J and his buddy JJ

Cousins :) 2010

 Have a great Thursday!!

Staying Hopeful, 

Aunt LaLa




















Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm going to have 3 nephews!

Everytime I think about having 3 nephews it really makes me want to shake my head!

It is just strange to me some times as I sit and think about how much life changes so quickly. You spend so many years at home growing up- cousins, camping, family vacations, sibling rivalry, Christmas EARLY mornings...

Then one day... Your married. 2 cousins have moved far away :( , Christmas is not the same, grandparents pass away, family vacations have to be divided up or taken seperatley because not EVERYONE can go at the same time... Its like your ONE big family because multiple families... Ugh... This post has made me sad.

My intention was to write about how much fun I had last week when I got visit my sister (Who is baking my 3rd nephew) and nephew! I also got to spend a day hanging out with my  best friend!

So lets continue down that road... yes? OK!

So last Monday started my spring break! I had planned a trip to GA and my mom decided to tag along and surprise my sister! She had no idea that mom was coming! (we are sneaky like that)

My sisters mother cooked us a fabulous meal! JJ was able to open his presents (Christmas,birthday, and Easter basket... I wasn't going to miss a any celebration!)

I also was able to find some cute stuff for my new nephew!

One said "aaargg change me booty" and the other "Dude your girlfriend is checking me out"

The bib I got said "My aunt loves me"

It was so great to feel the baby kick! I was so excited!

Here is some photos!

Memaw and JJ

JJ and LaLa

My sister Kim, the one I have requested prayer for. Continue to pray.



Have a great Wednesday!

Staying Hopeful, 
Aunt LaLa

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bad days

Any one who knows J and I know we love each other... We always hold hands, giving each other little kisses, watching each other from the other side of the room... But some days are just harder then others. Some days J drives me crazy! Some days I'm a grouch & snap at him. I used to feel such anxiety when this happened. My flaw of putting such a high standard on myself leaks in to my relationships sometimes. But the truth is J and I are very different people. We have different personalities. Thats ok. Above all we are human... So when we seem to have an off day instead of having anxiety I just remember that its still us, we still love each other, tomorrow is a new day :) Happy Monday! Happy Wives Club Staying Hopeful, Aunt LaLa