Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Wink

I'm sure ... actually I'm 100 percent positive you guys are sick of hearing how awesome my hubby is ... worse yet how great our marriage is and how much I still love this man. I know ...

And, yet ... I don't care and I still write about it.

So, bear with me.

Let's forget the fact that he's lost about 83 pounds and is looking pretty fantastic! I seriously cannot stop looking at him. Cutie patootie!

This is not even about that ... because as I tell him, day in and day out, "I loved you when you were overweight and I love you the same now." No difference.

But ... he is definitely looking good!

I thought for sure as life went on, we would be that typical couple who had to struggle to find common interests or would just grow tired of each other or grow apart. I was prepared to start doing all the hard work that couples have to do as they get older. You know ... sacrifice ... try to find common interests ... couples' retreats .... whatever.

Imagine my surprise when, after all these years, we just can't get enough of each other. I know! Sickening, huh? But, so incredibly true. I'm still amazed at how much he still loves me and wants to be with me and vice versa.

This guy ... my dear Beau ... sends me winks.

Yep. You know what I mean.

Winks throughout the days.

Like this ...


And, of course, me ... being me ... being a woman ... who thinks someone always wants something from her ... questions it.

Why? Why would you send me a wink without any reason?

Women ... you know you think the same. If our children aren't needing something from us, or our boss/employer, or our friends, or our family, etc., our husband definitely is. We are pulled in every direction.

But, what's becoming clear to me is that the reason for the winks are simple. There's no ulterior motive. No specific reason. It's just because. Just because he's thinking about me.

HE'S thinking about ME. After over 20 years, he still thinks about me. And, thinks thoughts that warrant a wink. He still loves me. He still thinks about me throughout the day. 

I think that's pretty awesome.

In a world where we see so many of our friends divorcing, I feel blessed to have a man who sends me winks and smiles throughout the day. I feel blessed that this man still thinks of me during his day. I feel blessed that when he's given the option to do anything during the week with any other person, what he wants to do is be with me. I feel blessed that my girls are disgusted by his displays of affection for me. I just feel blessed to have a man who loves me just as much as he did 20 years ago.

And, I love him even more. I can't explain it. I just know that I do.

So ... yeah ... I'm blessed. 
(Don't mean to rub it in. I hope you are just as blessed as I am.)





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moments I Won't Forget


I'm just coming down out of an amazing whirlwind that was the Joie de Vivre Conference this past weekend. The whole event and weekend for me was one of the best ever and there are so many moments I want to keep in my heart. I want to remember the things I heard God say to me.

First off ... I have so many passions. I really do. But, some passions are stronger than others. I answered a lot of my own questions I had on my heart when I was questioned about my passions. I came to realize that all I can do is be faithful. That's it. God will take care of the rest. Done.

That was the first thing.

Moving on ...

I heard so many times how important our choices and moments are in our lives. So, we have to choose SO carefully and not hastily, out of a place of emotion or frustration. Stay at your post. Whatever that post may be, stay there and be faithful.

Again with the "be faithful."

And, as I sat at a lengthy, wonderful lunch with one of the greatest missionaries ever, Marilyn Skinner, I was amazed at her stories and what she shared about the hard times for her. 


I listened in awe about her own faithfulness and the faithfulness of God. I felt selfish and spoiled. I felt that nothing that I was doing was hard or difficult. And, again I heard, "just be faithful and obedient."

I knew that God had a word for me this weekend. I was expecting Him to speak to me. I was open to what He had to say. There was so very much to hear from the speakers we had. But, I keep coming back to those words that kept being spoken, "be faithful and obedient."

I was extremely blessed and grateful for the company and encouragement of this woman, the lovely Helen Burns (Relate Church). She is the real deal and has a special place in my heart. I can't even tell you how much I adore her.

We even got to hear from her awesome hubby, Pastor John Burns. Wow! And, all the girls that heard him will agree. Can't wait to see them each again!


Lastly, a few years ago, I learned about Watoto and got to hear from the Watoto Children's Choir. It was literally one of the most moving experiences for me. I longed to be able to bring them to our church. Finally, my wish came true! What a great experience for our church!


Now, I'm just trying to rest a bit, but, of course, my mind is racing toward the next thing on the horizon. Until next year ...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Where's Mama Belle?

Like "Where's Waldo?" .. but without the stripes because we all know horizontal stripes are not flattering.

Yes, I'm still alive and kicking. Just you know ... life.

Let me get you caught up.

First this ...


It's a busy time for me. I've got this great conference coming up that I've been prepping for for a long time. Can't believe it's almost here. If you live nearby, come on over. You can get tickets here - joliwomen.com.

So, that explains A LOT. 

But, there's been other stuff.

Kids.


La Petite Belle is working on just passing 7th grade right now. It's been a very rough year adjusting to a new school and new curriculum and we've discovered new challenges with her learning style. Sweet baby girl has faced a lot of these challenges this year head-on. We've had to adjust too. Praying that she finishes strong! We love her heart and, of course, she's got that winning personality!

As we speak, K Belle, is on her way to San Antonio for a small vocal ensemble tour (which means minimal singing and lots of sight-seeing ... you know how these trips go). She's really blossomed this year. Again ... school grades ... eh, not always what I want them to be. But, musically and artistically, she has guns ablazing. In addition to her small vocal ensemble class, she was selected to be in a special talented music class, which includes a handful of others that make up this band (see video below). She's on fire with her songwriting. And, her music and vocal skillz are, of course, on point.

Here's a tiny clip because you  know everything's always too large to upload. The one with the purple hair (yeah ... I  know ... ugh), playing keys and singing ... that's my little girl.

video

Hubby.

Yeah, he's still around too. Growing skinnier by the minute. I'm amazed at his willpower, especially when I sit next to him eating gummy bears. I love this man mucho!

Work is hectic for him and we take out spare moments planning our little trip to Italy this fall. I can't even tell you how excited I am about that!

Work.

Speaking of gummy bears ...


These babies get me through the day. There's too much about my new job to even write about. Let's just say it's NOT at all what I expected and I'm dumber than I look. At times I think ... this is way beyond my brain level. But, alas ... I'm there. Praying it through as God teaches me to be thankful in all things and eating gummy bears almost every afternoon to make it through until 5:00.

Health.

Yes. I still run from time-to-time and even make it to the gym on certain days. Heck, I have to because I eat gummy bears every day. I try to be healthy 75 percent of the day. But, it's the 25 percent that's killing me. I'm just hungry. Hungry for gummy bears, not salad.


Friends.

These girls have been especially close to me and keep picking me up when I fall down.

This one at work ... (when I'm not picking her up ... ;) ... she continues to tell me "you is smart") ...


And, this one not at work ... She's simply amazing and I could write a whole post about how amazing she is. She's like my own personal cheerleader and speaks some good truths to me.


There's a few other girls ... what in the world would I do without them? Geez. I'm like co-dependent.



So ... yeah ... that's where I've been. And, I'll probably be in the same place at least for the next couple of weeks. Pray for me. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top 'O the Morning to Ya

Yeah ... I have a certain amount of Irish in me. Scotch Irish to be specific. That's the McDaniel part of me. It's my favorite part.

This obviously makes me an expert on all things Irish.

I love St. Patrick's Day. Why? You ask.

Well ... green is my FAVORITE color. 

I wear it all the time, but today I share my love of green with the world. I will never be pinched. 
(Who came up with that lame practice and how are we all still abiding by it in this day and age?)

I will wear my green proudly today & celebrate that certain percentage of Irish in me.

But, what do I really love about Irish things?

Lucky Charms.

Yep.

I don't know one single person in this entire world that dislikes Lucky Charms. If you do, I question your goodness as a person. It's magically delicious.

You know what else I love that's Irishy? Potatoes. 

What a wonderful diet that would be of Lucky Charms and potatoes. Diet perfection.

One day I have vowed to visit ye ole Ire land. I will sing "Danny Boy" while watching flocks of sheep graze in green pastures. Yes, it will happen.

But, until then ... I will celebrate this Irishness here in the states on this very holiday. I will gaze on things like this.

She's got a smidge of Irish in her too.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

And, if you want to know the REAL story about this holiday, go here and read about St. Patrick and why he was celebrated. It's quite interesting and has nothing to do with wearing green or pinches.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Seasons

And, I ain't talkin' about the weather, y'all.

I'm using this word that we use A LOT in the Christian arena.

For example ... "It's just the season that I'm in ... " or "It's not my season right now"... " or "When I was in that season ..."

We overuse this word. I overuse this word.

But, I so get it. And, I don't know another word for it.

Because, I, myself am in a strange season.

But, as I think about what that means, I have come to realize that we are the ones who change more than our "seasons" do. God moves us from one place to the next, this thing to that thing, and as He's doing that, He's the One changing us, molding us to be what He's longed for us to be all this time.

WE change.

I am DEFINITELY not who I was at 18, fresh out of high school without a care in the world. I'm also not who I was at 23, a young newlywed who was ga-ga over her new husband (but I still kinda am ... wink, wink, ... I just can't help it). I'm also not who I was at 26, a new mom who obsessed over her baby girl being on a schedule, while I was finishing college at the same time. I'm definitely not who I was at 30, a mom of two kiddos, with her life totally devoted to them. I'm not even who I was at 33, a full-time working mom, trying to balance it all.

If I'm honest, I'm not even who I was last year, because God is constantly changing me.

But, this is a good thing. Because He's changing me to be more reliant on Him, to be more unselfish ... which ... sheesh ... that's a hard one. I never realized how selfish I really could be until now.

So, as these seasons change, we MUST change too. It's just the way it works. 

A tree must lose its leaves in the fall. A flower can't stay in bloom through the winter.
That's just the way it is.

We MUST be the ones that change. The seasons were really always there, always coming and going, and they will continue to do so, just as God planned.

But, we have to change with these seasons. That's the whole point of growth.

What happens when we don't change?
The seasons just get harsher, longer, and harder to get through.

So, I WILL change. I will change with every season, just as God intended.
It may not be easy. But, I welcome the change in me.

Funny how we can sing and pray for God to change us, use us, mold us, but when He actually starts to do it, we reject it. Been there, done that. Yeah, it's hard, but God's changing of us proves that we are still usable, still willing, still surrendered.

And, now all I can think of is this ... why, oh, why ...


Yeah ... it's just how my brain works, y'all. Go with it.

In and out of whatever season I'm in or you're in, I love that we can be confident that the change He brings only draws us closer to His heart and our purpose.


Monday, March 3, 2014

As if a plain king cake isn't good enough ...

King cakes come and king cakes go. And, they're just about gone.

In celebration of this wonderful time of sugary goodness, Beau and I had the brilliant idea to turn our beloved king cake into what else but a pudding baked in a buttery cream-cheese mixture, topped with more sugar. Enough to make you go into a coma.

But, I will let you in on this little secret recipe ... not really a secret since I found it on the internet and made our own modifications. Know that we used a Meche's king cake and Beau always tends to overdo it on butter, cream, and sugar. I promise only a few bites will be enough for you are is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

King Cake Bread Pudding
(borrowed from raisedonaroux.com)

1 king cake (we used a large, filled with cream cheese), cubed
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (we scooped the cream cheese out of the king cake and used that)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups half-n-half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Purple, green and gold (yellow) sugar sprinkles*
Whiskey Sauce, see recipe
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Generously butter a large baking dish.  Place king cake in prepared dish; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter and sugar; beat on low until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add condensed milk, half-n-half, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt; mix well.  Pour mixture over king cake.  Soak at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until cake has absorbed most of the liquid, about 30 minutes.  Place baking dish is a large roasting pan.  Create a water bath by filling roasting pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, until toothpick tester comes out clean and top begins to brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Meanwhile, make a glaze by combining powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice in a large bowl; whisk until smooth.  Set aside.  When bread pudding is done, carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Top with glaze and decorate with sugar sprinkles.  Serve warm with Whiskey Sauce.  Serves 8-10.
*If you have trouble finding sugar sprinkles at the grocery store, you can order them online from baking sites like Wilton or make your own by whisking together one cup of granulated sugar and one teaspoon of purple, green or gold (yellow) food coloring.
Whiskey Sauce
1/2 cup bourbon
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
Melt butter in the top of a double boiler set over hot, but not boiling, water (or in a Pyrex bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water).  In a separate bowl, beat sugar and egg together; add to melted butter, whisking vigorously to prevent egg from curdling.  Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and egg is cooked, 3-4 minutes.  Remove sauce from heat and whisk in bourbon.  Makes about 1 cup.
Now remember my words ... small servings will suffice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Being OK with Being OK

(When I asked Beau if this post made any sense at all, He said, "uhhhhhh ... I guess, " which means, "woman, you have not one comprehensible thought." So ... take from it what you can.)

I know what you're thinking ... "what does that even mean?"

It's something that popped in my head yesterday. Not sure if it was me or the voice of God.

The problem which lies within me is the fact that I'm NOT OK with being OK. I'm just not. I want to be. Dear Lord ... I want to be.

But, God has put something inside me that is not OK with just being ordinary. 

Now, before you start thinking I think I'm all that ... hold up ... I don't.

Just because I'm not OK with being ordinary doesn't mean I'm not ordinary. 

I really am ordinary.

But, the problem I have an overwhelming drive inside me that is never OK with any of it.

The drive is the thing that can kill a person. I need that drive to die sometimes.

God tells me constantly:
Mama Belle ... you don't have to do anything for me to love you any more than I do.
Nothing.
I love you whether or not you do anything in ministry or not.
What you do does not affect my love for you.


But, of course, God also doesn't want me to sit on my keester doing nothing for Him. He wants me to be love. He wants me to live a life pleasing to Him. He wants me to use whatever gifts He's given me for His glory.

I'm trying desperately to be OK with just being OK ... meaning I don't have to do and be EVERYTHING. And, God's going to love me no matter what.

God is teaching me to just accept His love.


A good friend said this to me years ago, and I see it ringing so true in my life, and I don't know how to not be this. She said, "Mama Belle, you are 100% all the time. Whatever you do, it's at 100%, whether it's a small or large thing."

But, this can be torture.

Because if I can't give 100%, I'm in turmoil.

God is showing me that He wants me to put that 100% into knowing and loving Him more than in doing anything for Him.

That's hard for a person who's love language is acts of service, if you know what that means.

God's showing me to be OK with just being me.

Take away all my talents and abilities, and I feel useless. But, God says He wants my heart and my all more than He wants these things.

I don't even know if this post makes any sense at all, but I wanted to jot down these thoughts on this journey God's taking me on. I'm thankful for the journey, no matter how difficult it may seem. And, I hope my journey through the years helps someone else realize they're OK too. It's ridiculous how alike we all are.

I'll be putting my drive aside for now.

I guess that means less posts for you. Oh wait ... that's already been going on.