Your Calling in Life

Today I want to focus on your calling and tell you about mine. If you are a follower of Christ I believe that He has given you a purpose. You may not know what it is, but it is there and it will be revealed to you in His time. I was saved in 1997 and I started praying for my calling then. I got married in 2004 and had our first child in 2007. For the last twelve years my children have been my calling, or so I thought. For twelve years I felt like God was preparing me for something different.

In April 2019 I went on the North Mississippi Walk to Emmaus (you can read about that at The Walk to Emmaus. While there my anxiety hit me head on and I realized as long as I let it control me God can not use me. I’m useless! Before the weekend was over God led me to speak twice and a woman who I consider very wise told me that speaking to others is my gift. I know my other gift is writing. I have passion for writing, I have for years. Public speaking not so much, but I promised God if He called me to do it then I would never say no.

When I got home I was immediately asked to speak in front of one hundred strangers. I did it, I survived, and I felt God was with me. I promised Him again that I would follow, but I knew no one would ever ask me to speak again. I actually laughed about it. The next day one of my best friends asked me to be director of Mississippi for The Silent Voices Project. It involves public speaking and lots of writing.

My point is, when God places a call on your life you don’t have to do anything, it will fall into your lap if He wills it. I knew my friend was starting a nonprofit, but I also knew I wasn’t qualified. She, and God, saw it differently. I may not have experience (well, I have some now because I’ve been working diligently since day one), but I have compassion for others. That and my love for God drives me to help trafficking and cold case victims.

While you wait for your calling, be faithful. Pray, read your Bible, and stay close to God. Prepare your heart that it may not be easy at first, but when you know that God has orchestrated this moment, you will have peace. I was terrified and paranoid at first, but now I want to tell everyone about what we’re doing. I have a passion and an excitement that I haven’t known before.

If you want to check out my other blog, here is my latest blog post, Why Epstein’s Death is Bigger Than You Thought.

Thank you for visiting today!

Lots of Updates!

So today I kinda just want to update y’all on what is going on in our super busy lives (why I haven’t posted). I am hoping that as I get into the new swing of things I will be able to post more, but I can’t promise. So I won’t do that.

So, update number one: We are NOT moving AT THIS TIME. Our lives are in this location so it would be super hard to start over right now. That may change in a year or so, but for now we are staying put. We will be remodeling our 1997 Buccaneer single wide so look for those updates here and on Pinterest.

Update number two: I have a new career. I am the brand new director for Missississippi of the Silent Voices Project. We investigate cold cases, help search for missing people, and educate the public on human trafficking. The website is here and I am working on a blog for my state. I have been praying for sixteen years for a ministry and this literally fell into my lap one day. Every talent God has given me has been put to good use and I am still floored that my friend asked me to do this. It’s incredible!

The very last update is that I am also selling Scentsy as a way of funding the Silent Voices Project. Gas to do expos and education, business supplies, and future goals all cost money. By future goals I am talking about a home for human trafficking survivors as well as supplies for survivors in the United States as well as in Nigeria.

So, that’s what I have been up to these last few weeks. I don’t plan on slowing down any, but when I have a few minutes I’m hoping to update this blog. Thank you for stopping by!

We Have to Be Foolish

We Have to Be Foolish

You may be wondering what I’m going to talk about today. Well, I was reading my Bible this morning and when I came to 1 Chronicles 15:29, I remembered a praise and worship song I dearly loved when I was a teenager. It says, “And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating and she despised him in her heart.” The song is called “Undignified (I Will Sing)” and it’s performed by many different Christian artists, but I love Matt Redman’s rendition. This is it with lyrics.

When we read God’s Word and obey it, we appear foolish to the world. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Verse 27 goes on to say, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;”.

If we truly want to be Christ-like then we must be willing to be to look foolish to nonChristians. They thought Jesus was crazy! Why should they think different of us if our goal is to be like Him? Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I encourage you to study the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how we are supposed to be. We are to love others, even those who hate us. We are to worship Him with our brothers and sisters, without fear of what others will think of us. We are called to fellowship together (attend church), but we are to worship Him without ceasing. My favorite place is when I’m in the car or my home with my three children. I want to raise them to be foolish to the world, too.

How to Set Goals (And Accomplish Them)

How to Set Goals

Setting goals is super easy, but keeping them can be challenging. I know this from personal experience! So, today I thought I would talk about how to make it easy to actually accomplish your goals.

First, you need to name your goal, be specific, and make it measurable. For instance, if you just say you want to read your Bible more, exercise more, etc. you’re probably not going to stick with it. Not because it’s not a good goal, but because you can’t track it. A few examples of measurable goals are:

  • I will read my Bible every morning
  • I will exercise five minutes a day/3x a week
  • I will save $20/week for 52 weeks (That’s $1,040 not including interest in case you were wondering)

Create a graph on paper or on your phone/tablet/computer so that you can see if you are making progress. Keep it somewhere that you will actually look at it. By the way, I don’t believe the Bible should be a checklist item, but it’s better than not reading the Bible. If that’s a goal of yours then check out How to Read the Bible (it will open in a new window).

My exercise goal is a little different. Since we will be living in town soon, my plan is to ride my bike for quick trips to the store instead of driving (unless it’s raining). This will save me some gas money and I will hopefully lose a few pounds. I’ll let you know once I’ve been at it for a few months.

What are some of your goals and how are you keeping track? You can let me know in comments or on our Facebook page!

Decorating on a Budget

DismalsCanyon

Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite things, decorating! Yes, decorating can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Today I’m going to talk about doing so with a modest budget. It helps to be creative and crafty, but it’s not required.

The top picture that you see is one that I took at Dismals Canyon in Phil Campbell, Alabama. I chose it because I am planning to have it printed at Walmart so that I can hang it on my wall at Berry Cottage. I can print it as a 16×20 poster and buy a frame for less than $20 and it has meaning to me and my family. If you enjoy taking pictures and want to show off your artwork, there are many options for printing. I chose Walmart because I can upload my pictures and drive there to pick them up. No waiting.

I buy all of my furniture from second-hand stores and on Facebook marketplace. I buy my mattresses at Wal-Mart because I’m terrified of getting bed bugs. There are ways to check for them, but I personally would rather avoid them.

A simple way to dress up a room is with new curtains and throw pillows. If you have a sewing machine you can use sheets from a thrift store if you can’t find inexpensive material that you like. Just cut out your pattern or the measurements you need for what you’re making. Remember to leave room to hem it. You can also use old clothes and sheets to make a throw or a quilt.

If you like figurines or you’re looking for holiday decor, Dollar Tree is awesome! My mom has an adorable Christmas village that she bought piece by piece there and you can’t tell. They add new ones every year so you can add to your collection.

You can also repurpose furniture. For instance, there were two dressers in the Berry Cottage when we bought it. One is tall, but the other is perfect for our TV. I use the drawers to store DVDs, games, and CDs (I still have CDs and cassette tapes, but the cassettes stay in my 1999 Toyota). You can paint furniture to fit your decor and even change the knobs to give it a new look. I’m considering it with our new TV stand, but I kind of like the retro wood and brass look.

OldDresser

This picture was taken when we first bought the house so this room looks very different and all of the trash has been thrown away.

What are some of your favorite ways to decorate on a budget?

Try Something New!

IMG_1039

About eight months ago my mom and I started going to a monthly painting class. We go out to eat and then spend two hours working on our masterpieces. She and I had never done anything like this before, but we wanted to get a break for a couple of hours. Our teacher is amazing and she not only teaches us how to paint but also how to fix any mistakes.

Eight months later and our paintings are not only improving, but now we’re talking about doing this on our own because we love it and two hours a month aren’t enough. You can see in my painting at the top that it’s not perfect, but it’s fun and relaxing.

If you have ever wanted to try something then go for it! Don’t be afraid that it won’t be perfect, that comes with time and practice. There are YouTube videos for everything these days! You can learn to crochet, knit, cook, or even do home repairs! Just relax and give it a chance. A hobby isn’t about perfection, it’s about relaxation and having a great time!

My next project is going to be painting the Berry Cottage on my own because I have always wanted a painting of my old house hanging in the living room. Even before I actually had an old house. I envisioned one day having a two-story farmhouse, but with my husband’s disabilities, a one-story is better for our family. It will also be easier for me to paint.

Here are a few ideas in case you need inspiration for a hobby:

  • Blogging (you can start for free on WordPress or Blogger)
  • Drawing
  • Journaling
  • Dollhouses/Miniatures (This is a goal of mine)
  • Quilting/Sewing
  • Pottery
  • Gardening

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some suggestions to get you started. Don’t worry about perfection, just have fun. I also highly recommend trying a painting class. You may be surprised at what you can do!

Progress at Berry Cottage

KidsBedroom

We got the floor installed in the kid’s bedroom and I was so excited that I couldn’t wait for the tools to be put away before taking pictures. Look closely at the flooring. It looks like hardwood, even in person, but it’s not. It’s sheet vinyl that I bought from Lowe’s for $.37 a square foot. It’s grooved and has knotholes just like real hardwood, but for a fraction of the price.

We also put in the window unit. The house has never had central heat and air and we chose not to put it in to save money. We’re planning to buy a natural gas heater before it gets cold. We were told that the gentleman who owned the house before us kept the house warm with one brick on a natural gas heater. He only had one air conditioner so we’re assuming he liked the house very warm, which we don’t, so one brick may force us outside until nightfall.

KidsBedroom(2)

We also had a new wall put in. The old wall had been eaten by termites. Fortunately, there wasn’t any new damage or evidence of living termites. We are going to have the house treated as a precaution since most of our walls are going to be the original shiplap that hasn’t been destroyed. This wall will be getting trim put on it to hide the seams and add interest since it’s vinyl and can’t be painted easily. The black on the left is the five panel door we had installed months ago.

Our next project is putting in new flooring and paneling in the hallway. I will share that with you once it’s done. We are doing this remodel on a super tight budget, but we’re so excited with how it’s turning out. I can’t wait until it’s finished, it’s going to be my happy place.

Just Participate, Don’t Anticipate

DontAnticipate

“Just participate, don’t anticipate” was the mantra on my Walk to Emmaus. It made us slow down and not overthink our weekend, just enjoy the surprises that popped up along the way. I find that doing this now is almost therapeutic. I thought I was crazy, until today.

Every afternoon I start my Bible study with Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young. Today it says, “Concentrate on keeping step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you”. It references Proverbs 16:9 which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”. This means that it’s okay to make plans as long as you allow God to guide your steps.

That’s what we have done with Berry Cottage. We asked God to show us where He wanted us and He showed us Berry Cottage. Then He blessed us financially to be able to move there. We serve a loving, merciful God who wants to bless us, but in His time and in His way. That’s what He’s teaching me.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I still have my struggles. I’m still praying to be content in our current circumstances, but I’m learning that contentment is really a choice. Some days I have to ask Him to show me the way, but it’s getting easier.

When Are You Moving?

25ee1-berry2bcottage

I get this question a lot. I have been praying that God would open a door so that we can move. Yesterday I told my husband that I want a move-in date. He said, “Show me the money”. I prayed and asked God to please help us. An hour later my mom called with a surprise for us. We are moving in July of this year!

To say that I’m excited is an understatement. The house won’t be perfect, but I don’t even care. That will come in time. I’m ecstatic because I know where God wants us. All we have to do is take what we need, which really isn’t much.

I will post pictures as we complete projects and start decorating. That’s my favourite part of this. Decorating and making our house a home. It’s going to be simple, but comfortable. Like the house itself.

If you are looking for an answer or you are struggling, go to Jesus. I can tell you with certainty that He loves you and He’s waiting for you to talk to Him. He still talks to us just like He talked to people in the Bible. We just have to take time to listen. We’re too often too busy for Him. He’s never too busy for us.

Remodeling on a Budget

RemodelOnABudget

Recently my husband and I were talking about what our trailer needs. It’s twenty years old so the list is pretty expansive (and expensive!). We still have a long time left until it’s paid off (which is a long story), but it’s not worth much. So we agreed that while we want to make it comfortable, we don’t want to invest a fortune.

The above picture is our home a year ago. It hasn’t changed much, but we are hoping to fix that with shutters and some paint. Along with a few other ideas we’re tossing around.

A big thing is the outdated and undersized HVAC system. Add that to the aluminum siding and lack of insulation and you understand why it’s hot inside and our electric bill is high. In case you don’t, I’ll add the missing piece, we live in Alabama.

We could replace the furnace, exterior unit, and the broken ducts for around $5,000. That we don’t have. Instead, we are going to use window units on the back and portable units on the front since they’re not as unsightly. We discussed propane for heat, but our floorplan isn’t set up where it will work well. Basically, our TV and Xbox will melt while our bedrooms and bathrooms freeze. We are looking into infrared heaters and an infrared fireplace for the living room.

fireplace.png

We’re also looking into window awnings and shade cloth until we can put on vinyl siding and a good metal roof. Our current roof requires cool sealing which is what you typically do with an RV. We are hoping to eventually put on a real metal roof.

Another problem is the furring strips on the walls that they do in manufactured homes to save money instead of spackling and putty. We’re going to take them off, spackle, and putty then repaint. It will feel like a house and a home then.

If you live in a manufactured home and you’re in need of inspiration I highly recommend going to Pinterest and putting in your dimensions along with “manufactured home”. In my case I put in, “16×80 manufactured home”. I found a similar floor plan that with minimal effort would give me a full laundry room and a pantry. So we are going to take down one wall and build two plus add two doors to our home. I’m ecstatic! This will give us two things that we have wanted for about $1,000 or less once we’re done. This also makes our space more usable.

What I am looking forward to most is my children’s bedrooms. We decided to put our 12 and two year old boys together in the large 15×9 bedroom and give our daughter the 8×9 bedroom. To maximize her space we’re going to build her a loft bed with a desk and a swing where she can sit and draw or do her school work. She’s four so she pretty much designed it herself and I think it’s going to be an amazing space. Our oldest is getting my 90 year old mahogany bed and the little guy wants a John Deere tractor bed. I’m going to try to build it for him.

I will write posts as we accomplish goals and let you know how things are going and how things are working. I’m hoping to put a lot of pictures on Pinterest, too, in case anyone wants to copy our ideas. We’re hoping to get started soon, but it may be November with everything going on. Which is fine since it gives us time to make sure that we’re doing what God wants and not just what we want.