Of Dogs and Men

“Dogs are quick to show their affection. They never pout, they never bear a grudge. They never run away from home when mistreated. They never complain about their food. They never gripe about the way the house is kept. They are chivalrous and courageous, ready to protect … at the risk of their lives. They love children, and no matter how noisy and boisterous they are, the dog loves every minute of it. … Perhaps if we husbands imitated a few of our dog’s virtues, life with our family might be more amiable.” – Billy Graham



The Ties that Bind

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?
Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 10.52.13 AMHer children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” – Proverbs 31:28,29
Happy Mother’s Day! When I think of the women God chose to mold me into the woman that I am, I feel overwhelmed and humbled.
I was blessed with two very different, but very strong, very Godly grandmothers. They have both gone to be with Jesus, and I sure wish I had spent more time with each of them. I would have loved to have learned both’s cooking and gardening skills. To an extent, I feel like I was blessed with the best of both of them – I have a heart for people like my Nannie and all the feistiness and charisma of my Grandma.
Nannie raised my mother as a single mom in the 60’s – a task that at the time was not respected as it is today but rather looked down upon. She worked hard to provide for my mother and worked even harder to make every occasion both special and memorable. On Easter she would dye pearls to match my mother’s dresses. On Christmas each gift was wrapped with special, decorative, themed paper. And every rodeo that rode through town, she provided my mom with new matching boots and hat. Yet, her own shoes were often worn and the sole of them replaced with cardboard or tape.
When I was a child, she worked just as hard to spoil me and my brother. Though she lived far away from us, each visit proved that we were never far from her mind. During the months since she’d seen us, she’d have filled up “goody bags” from each trip to the store she’d taken. Coloring books, colors, clothes, toys, and my very favorite – paper bags filled with Brach’s candy, would fill our bags to overflowing. It was an impressive display of love as she lived on a limited income.
Each summer trip to visit her included countless visits to a nursery where each year she’d buy my brother and me a fern to take back home, trips to the dairy freeze up the road for an ice cream cone each evening, and multiple trips to the library where she would buy us used books. Perhaps my love of the written word comes from her.

Nannie’s greatest love was Jesus. She would share Him with strangers at the laundry-mat. She hid the Word of God in her heart and could quote it at a moment’s notice. She gave willingly to others in need – even when her own needs were greater. She was the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she was – truly “salt and light” in an often flavorless and dark world.
Grandma was a lot different. She was spunky and full of sizzle. When asked to take a picture or when she caught sight of my camera, she’d say, “M-an-dee, you’re going to be carried out in a body bag.” (Grandma always called me Mandee and always pronounced it in three syllables.) We shared a very similar taste in men – both totally crushing on Bo Brady and John Black back in the day. When I introduced her to my husband (then boyfriend) she said, “M-an-dee, if I was sixty years younger, I’d wrestle you for him.” She wasn’t joking. And she would’ve totally taken me!
Grandma always had a fresh homemade cake, sweet potato or pecan pie resting on a ceramic cake plate in the kitchen for whoever might happen to stop by. She refused to allow anyone to help wash dishes and would run us from the room with a broom if we attempted. I remember early mornings of her cleaning house while listening to a local country music radio station. Lunch time brought the noon news followed by Days of Our Lives and then Another World. Grandma was also passionate about watching wrestling, going fishing, and drinking hot beer from a glass jar that she’d tell us children was apple juice. She loved Thanksgiving as that was usually the day that would draw all of her children and grandchildren together. When Grandma disapproved of you, you were called a “T-A” – which affectionately refers to a turtles rear end. Grandma figured you couldn’t get much lower than that.
And my precious Momma. Where do I start? I’m sure Proverbs 31:29 refers to her specifically, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” My Momma has always been my best friend, closest confidant and my rock. She trained me from a young age in the Word of God and has nurtured me in that walk for all of my years. During my unruly late teenage years, she met my rebellious streak head on with prayers and with grace. She perfected being a “Nana” from the day my firstborn came into the world. My Momma has made countless sacrifices for me, my brother, and my children over the years never once asking what’s in it for her. She lives her life in devotion to Jesus with a quiet fortitude that carries her through each day. She is my role-model, and I hope to become half the woman that she is.12814190_10153229516691511_1744000826478023758_n
These precious, God-fearing ladies worked together to shape who I am today. They taught me that faith and family are what really count in this world, that good food makes for warm hearts, and hard work rewards itself. They taught me integrity, character, and perseverance. They taught me about the kind of mother (and one day grandmother) I want to be. I am forever grateful.
Have a blessed Mother’s Day, y’all!

All of It

On the rare occasion that our family sits down at the kitchen table to eat together, we take turns discussing the details of our day.  Everyone is asked what their favorite part of the day has been.  Answers vary from meal to meal for most of us.  One child will reply, “This is.”  Another will say, “When I finished school.”  I’ve been guilty of answering, “When y’all finished your chores without being threatened.”  But one answer is always the same.  My youngest son always answers, “All of it!

Even though it has become the expected response, I can’t help but smile each time Connor makes his declaration.  It doesn’t matter how many times he’s been scolded or how many times his older siblings stole his turn on a gaming system.  It doesn’t matter how many times he has fallen and scraped up his knees or been unhappy that we’re having beans and rice for supper again.  Though he may have complained more than once about said things, he has found true joy in life.  Through the good and the bad.  Through the misery he brings on himself and that others heap upon him.  He has found that true joy is only found in “all of it”.

You can’t pick apart only the best moments of life and choose that those are the ones that make you happy.  You will spend your whole life miserable.  Happy and special moments are few and far between and most of our life is spent in the mundane tasks that make up our daily lives.

I love this quote by Kay Warren:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life; the quiet confidence that ultimately everything will be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”                            

In all that happens in your life today, be encouraged and choose joy!


Broadening My Horizons

IMG_0002wm IMG_0035wm IMG_0055wm IMG_0075wm IMG_0099-2wm IMG_0104wm IMG_0123wm IMG_0151wm IMG_0195wm IMG_0207wm IMG_0274wm IMG_0278wm IMG_0314wmI had so much fun doing an after Christmas shoot for an entire family.  The session was their Christmas gift to one another, and it was such an honor to be chosen to capture memories for them.  In addition to the seven humans and six dogs, I also got to extend my photography portfolio to include goats!  This was such a fun group, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!!

Also, SIVILS and GOLD will be making a HUGE announcement on New Year’s Day.  Be sure to check back to see what we believe God has in store for us in 2015.