That Lonely Feeling


I've always had this vision, this big dream, of how the holidays would be when I was grown.

Me cooking a big meal.
A table beautifully sat.
Lots of family.
Friends sprinkled in.
A gaggle of cousins.
A house full of laughter.
An entire evening of fellowship and love.


Life doesn't always go the way we dreamed of as a child, does it? I have a confession: sometimes I feel lonely during the holidays. It's something I don't often talk about at all because it makes me feel guilty. Why do I feel guilty? Because I have a husband and two kids to spend the holidays with, not to mention two amazing parents. Still, the loneliness is there.

When I was a child, holidays were spent with family. Thanksgiving at my Grandparents, Christmas Eve at my Aunt and Uncles and Christmas Day at my Grandparents. I loved it, I soaked in every single moment of being surrounded by laughter, love and the feeling of belonging. Do you remember the days when after the holidays you would go to your families house and they would show you what they got for Christmas? I know, I loved that!

Once I got married, the family we spent the holidays with doubled. Sometimes holidays even meant visiting two or three different houses in one day. I have to admit, I loved it.

Maybe more than loneliness, its' a heart craving. A craving and desire to have things the way they used to be. I have this desire to hostess, to show hospitality by making my house warm and welcome and to show my love and thankfulness through the food I cook.

Throughout the years, the seasons of life have changed. Between people passing away, children growing up and moving out and just life changing we've been left spending holidays among our little family. Thanksgiving at my parents, Christmas Eve at home, Christmas Day at my parents and New Years Eve at home.

It's certainly not how I envisioned my life.

But, what I've realized throughout this, the holidays are not about me and my feelings. The season is about Him. Thinking of Jesus’ humble, magnificent, unimaginably difficult, astonishing birth stills my heart during the Christmas Season. It helps me to align my heart with joy.

This holiday season when I feel the familiar pangs of sadness and loneliness creep over me, I will look up and focus my eyes on Him. I will be reminded that what I have is enough. I will remember that He IS the most important element in my life. He brings TRUE peace, joy, and celebration in the midst of this season. He is the TRUE reason for the season.


Buying Handmade


As a small business owner myself, it's super important to me to shop support other small business and thriving artists. Buying handmade has so many great aspects! You support local artisans, and therefore their family, local economy and community. Your gifts are the best on the block. Cool, trendy, unique, and usually one-of-a kind, you can find some really awesome handmade stuff that’ll make everyone ask Where can I get one? You gain a unique connection with an artisan. Let’s not forget the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you helped support someone very directly.  

Years ago, before I started my photography business, I constantly had my camera in hand. I would take photographs of landscapes, nature and anything else that peaked my interest and caught my eye. As these photographs began to accumulate, I toyed with the idea of starting my own Etsy shop. For years, I had been an avid Etsy shopper. One day, as I was browsing Etsy, I made the plunge and opened my own shop. That was in 2011. Over the past 5 years, I've branched out into also designing images. I found a love for fonts, and words. So phone cases just seemed to be a natural fit.

I love to making and designing stuff, as you might have noticed. And I adore photography. I've spent many, many hours photographing, designing and posting my items.

What do I make now? Fine art prints, phone cases, calendars, downloadable wall art, canvases and pillow covers.

Today, I'm sharing my art with you.  I'd love for you to take a look around, I'm sure you'd find something for yourself and may even others on your Christmas list!  There is still time for shopping before Christmas.
 

Hello. Goodbye.


Hello December, goodbye November
Hello my fav month...you're so happy, festive, sparkly, shiny and you smell really super good
Hello Christmas tree, goodbye pumpkins
Hello family time + lots of laughs


Hello celebrating the real reason for the season, the birth of Christ
Hello Christmas ham {my fav}, goodbye Thanksgiving turkey
Hello holiday baking, goodbye self control
Hello hot chocolate, goodbye hot cider
Hello season of giving, goodbye buying for myself


Hello Gregory, our elf on the shelf...oh how I've missed your naughty adventures
Hello streaming Christmas music all.the.time., goodbye regular radio stations
Hello to every Christmas movie out there, goodbye non-holiday movies
Hello happy mail daily, goodbye boring mail


Hello crafting presents, goodbye boring evenings
Hello first year for my fireplace, goodbye wishing I had one
Hello kids Christmas program, goodbye dry eyes
Hello Christmas caroling and Christmas wrapping, goodbye free time
Hello making lists and checking them twice


Hello the season I've waited for all year long
Hello the season that feels extra magical this year


Thankful {25/30}


Today I am thankful for receiving this shirt in the mail, and the gentle reminder it offered.  This sucks, but God is good.  There are a lot of situations that suck...infertility, death, money issues, drugs or being accused of something that just downright isn't true.  But even in the midst of those situations we can cling to one thing...God is good y'all!  And He is good all the time, even the midst of the chaos of life.

Today I am thankful for answered prayers. Even though those answers aren't always what WE think they should be, they are always what HE knows they should be. I'm thankful for His timing, even when this girl is too stubborn to see it.

Today I'm thankful for all the amazing prayer warriors in my life.  It's so, so comforting to know all I need to do is ask and y'all have me covered.  I'm so fortunate and blessed!

Thankful {24/30}


Today I am thankful for a morning spent drinking coffee and snuggling on the couch with my girl and pup, watching parades. For a day spent sitting around the table enjoying amazing food with my favorite people in the entire world. We are having dinner at my Mama's and I can't WAIT to eat! Sounds like such a super amazing day. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

To Joey, With Love {Movie Review + Giveaway}

Image result for to joey with love

To Joey, With Love 
By Rory Feek

About the movie:
Husband-and-wife singing duo Joey+Rory wanted more to life … so they chose less. In preparation for the birth of their child, the couple simplified their lives by putting their music career aside and staying at home, planting roots deep in the soil of their small farm, and the community they loved.
They believed God would give them a great story … and He did.
In select theaters Tuesday, September 20—for one special night only—experience the incredible true story of Joey and Rory Feek in the poignant new film TO JOEY, WITH LOVE. Intimately filmed by the couple over two and a half years, the movie documents the stirring journey of the 2010 Academy of Country Music Top New Vocal Duo.
TO JOEY, WITH LOVE takes moviegoers from the birth of their daughter Indiana, born with Down Syndrome, through Joey’s struggle with and ultimate surrender to cancer—all amidst their never-ending hope in something far greater. God gave Joey+Rory a love story for the ages, one that is sure to inspire hope and faith in all who experience it.

I've begun writing this blog post numerous times, each time having to stop because the tears were clouding my vision.  I've finally surrendered to them, and will just brush them away as they continue to fall.

In 2008 my husband and I were obsessed with a new country show on CMT called Can You Duet.  It was like the American Idol of country music.  And from the first episode, we were hooked.  I can remember the first time I saw the man in overalls and his beautiful wife, they were instantly my favorite.  Their harmonies, oh their sweet harmonies, were so beautiful I could listen to them all day.  We anxiously watched every episode.  Though they didn't win and came in third place (which I thought was complete rubbish) they were still my favorite.  And I quickly bought their album when it was released.

Years later, I excitedly found them on TV once again.  The Joey + Rory Show on RFDTV was amazing, and I watched every episode I could find.  Around the same time, I stumbled on Rorys blog.  As a fellow blogger, I absolutely appreciated his desire to document their lives.

I read throughout Joeys pregnancy and excitedly awaited the announcement that their little one had arrived.  Sweet little Indiana, she was beautiful.  As equally beautiful was the love you could see in her parents eyes.  Joey and Rory were head-over-heels with little Indy, every blog post poured with their love for her.

Shortly thereafter came a blog post that shook everyone to their core.  Joey had cancer.

Many days I was glued to his blog, hungrily waiting for glimpses into their life while hoping against hope that Joey’s condition would improve.

It didn't.

The world watched, through Rory's blog posts, Indy grow bigger and sweeter. While she grew, Joey faded. And shortly after Indiana’s second birthday, Joey passed away.

Rory had taken countless hours of video starting when they decided to take a year off and focus on their life together, right up until her death. Occasionally, through tear-filled eyes, we would get to watch some of these videos on his blog. With the help of filmmakers he assembled this footage into a documentary. It was a labor of love, a gift to his late wife, and such an incredibe tribute to Joey.

I’m not sure I even know how to describe this movie aside than overflowing with love and life. It’s not a grief story, because it's focused on their life. I would describe it as a beautiful love story. Not just their love story, but mainly focused on their mutual love for Jesus. But more than anything, I would say it's a beautifully done tribute to a life well lived for Him.

Their faith was woven through every word, every action and every decision.  Joey knew that her fading health and eventual death would be the biggest testimony of her life.  With the world watching, she lived every second for Him!

And what I can say is that if you have the chance to see it, jump at that chance. Yes, you’ll cry. But you’ll laugh and you’ll come away appreciating life, love, and everything that goes into it.

And I am honored to have been given a copy to give away to one of my precious readers!! Yep, you read that right. Below you will find a giveaway box, just follow the simple instructions to be entered to win your very own DVD of To Joey, With Love. Y'all, you do NOT want to miss this chance!


Special thank you to Icon Media for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. My review is my own personal opinion.

To leave a blog post comment, you do NOT do it through the entry box.  Leave the comment first (follow this link if you can't find where to comment http://bit.ly/2gBqTv0), then click through the entry and choose "I commented".  Then gain more entries by sharing!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thankful {21/30}


Today I am thankful for snowy, cold days exactly like this.  I've spent the day editing a few sessions, working on my chicken coops, integrating three flocks together, cleaning and baking. 

This morning I spent some time making dough for homemade hotpockets for my boys lunches.  When I have leftover meatballs and sauce I just make up a batch of dough and make meatball and cheese hotpockets.  They freeze great and are easy for them to grab for their lunch.  Today I'm fortunate enough to also have leftover ham, so I'm going to make some ham and cheese ones as well.  And I may even end my day making some homemade english muffins!  I'll put my hotpocket recipe below.


Homemade Hotpockets

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
filling - Meatball {meatballs, sauce and mozzarella cheese}, Ham {ham and cheddar cheese}, Pizza {pepperoni, sauce and mozzarella cheese} and Breakfast {scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage and cheddar cheese}


Instructions

Add water, sugar, oil, salt, flour and yeast to your bread machine {make sure to follow the order your specific bread machine calls for} and set it to the dough setting.  While your bread machine is working, prepare your fillings and set them aside.

Once the dough is ready, take handfuls of the dough and roll out into a small circle about the size of your hand. Add your desired filling and fold the circle of dough over to make a half circle.  Seal the edges and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

To freeze: After baking, cool the hotpocket completely.  Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe ziploc bag. Freeze for later use.

To reheat from frozen:  Unwrap plastic wrap, cover in a paper towel and heat for 1 1/2 minutes. After it has been thawed, heat up in microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Recipe Notes
This recipe makes about 8 large hot pockets.


Thankful {20/30}


Today I am thankful for the most amazing church and church family. I've been so very blessed to attend this church since I was a baby.  So many members of the church I've known my entire life, and honestly feel as if they are family. I've made so many lifelong friends inside this church. And memories, oh how many sweet memories I've made here throughout my life.  Just walking through the door feels like home.


Thankful {19/30}


Today I am thankful for an entire day of Christmas shopping with my Mama and my love. I so looooove shopping days with my Mama and treasure it. After all, she's the one that trained me to be the shopper I am!  Although I have to admit, she can still out-shop me. Our days are always filled with lots of laughing, LOTS of me searching stores for her (I still don't understand how she can disappear so quickly) and some super yummy food. PERFECTION!!!!

Thankful {17/30}


God has truly blessed me with the BEST, most amazing friends ever. I honestly don't know what I would do without each and every one of them in my life. I've realized throughout the years that I don't need a bucketful of friends, all I need is handful of true friends. How lucky am I to actually have that! I am completely blessed to have these amazing people in my life.

One of them has even been there since basically we were babies, bless her heart. Our Mama's and Dads were friends so it was a given we would be too. I don't know how she has dealt with my "Amyness" for that long. And one of them has been there since high school. We can still sit and talk for hours, laugh like crazy, cry as soon as we see the others tears and just enjoy the fellowship of each other. Our "girl days" are the most amazing thing...movies, jammies, tons of food, laughter...perfection!!

My handful of friends might each look different, and have different personalities, but I hold each of them close to my heart. And I know that with one phone call they would be here for me, and I for them.  Love y'all!

Thankful {16/30}



If y'all have followed me for a time, you know my story.  This medical journey of mine has felt never ending at times, and sometimes seems like an uphill battle.  But throughout it all, and I can't say this enough, it has been filled with so many blessings along the way.  And every drop of that glory goes to God.

A lot of my journey I've keep private.  If you've never been chronically ill, you may not understand this, but sometimes you just get tired of talking about it.  You get tired of not being normal.  And even though I'm sure this isn't true, I feel like people get tired of hearing about it.  If you ask me how I'm doing, I will more than likely answer "I'm good" as it's my go-to answer.  But just know there is, and always will be, things going on in my journey.  I've had to accept and just come to realize this is what my normal is now.  

Last year started another journey, one I wasn't accustomed to.  It was one of those things I've kept private.  In June God led me to the most amazing, caring doctor.  I knew the moment she opened her mouth that she was sent by Him directly into my path to be a part of my journey.

Last week I walked back into that doctors office so full of hope.  And then I heard the words I never wanted to hear "she isn't here anymore".  A few unthinkable heart-wrenching things transpired during that appointment and when I walked out those doors, my heart was crushed and my mind was reeling.  I've never in my entire life had a nightmare situation make me feel in my heart like that one had.

What had just happened?  How is that possible?  How will I ever adjust?  What does this mean to me, to my life and to my family?

Before I go any further let me just say I'm not going to go into detail, so please don't message me (or my family) and ask for specifics.  Just know what happened stung, no it down right hurt, and it's something no one should ever have to deal with.

I took a few teary days filled with me continually giving it to Him, and then snatching it right back.  Worry, fear and heartache consumed me.

Thankfully a few days away with my love had been, I'm sure not by chance, scheduled right in those days.  It was exactly what my heart needed to heal.  God knows what we need so much better than we do y'all.

Last night, as I lay snuggling my snoring husband, I prayed.  I prayed harder than I have in a long time.  And I gave every single drop of it to Him.  I refuse to allow satan to keep convincing me that God isn't big enough to handle this in the most perfect way.

Today, I am so extremely thankful for prayers.  And I covet all of yours.  As you are reading this, I'm getting ready to walk into a new doctors office starting a new journey.  Please be praying for the situation, for truth to be revealed, for the doctors knowledge and understanding and for Gods hand to be shown throughout it all.  Pray for my heart, as it's still reeling and needs time to heal.  And pray for me to accept the outcome, no matter what.

On our way home Saturday, I couldn't hold the tears back any longer.  Joe looked over and saw them and instantly grabbed my hand.  I can't even express how much this man is my rock.  A few miles down the road, in a town where we don't know a soul, there was a community craft show.  Joe convinced me to go in and walk around, even though I would have been content to sit in the car and cry.  We walked through the doors and I walked up to a table.  Y'all, nearly the first thing I saw was a sign that said "Today's Trials are Tomorrows Testimonies".  And you can bet I bought that right up.  Perfect timing, perfect placement and a perfect statement.  I have it sitting right in my office beside my desk to continually remind me just whose battle this is.  I know God is going before me and preparing my heart for every situation.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  Prayer is a powerful thing and God hears each and every one of them.  Y'all are the best prayer warriors!!

Thankful {14/30}

Today I am thankful for being a country girl. For dirt roads and corn fields. For chicken raising and garden growing. For the ability to change my own oil, bake up a cake from scratch and put shingles on the roof. For learning to drive a 1946 John Deere H when I was 11. For cowboy boots, t-shirts and jeans. For loving to get muddy and spinning out every chance I get. For not being afraid to tackle any task while my husband is at work...whether it's putting new plumbing in the toilet or replacing the thermocoupler on my furnace.  For my Mama showing me how to grow and can my own food. For my Dad teaching me dirt washes off, how to replace a universal joint, how to mix bondo {which I love the smell of...is that weird?} and how to weld and braze. For being country since the first breath I took, even when it wasn't cool. There is no place else I'd rather be than in my little Small Town, USA.