Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You know you're a Southerner when. . . . .

Today I caught myself saying, "Bless your heart" to one person and "Darlin" to another. Oh my - southern culture is taking over my life.

It's a brand new year

Well, 2008 is over after today so I'll post a recap and New Year's Resolutions.

I had 6 resolutions at the beginning of this year and I'm happy to report that I have exceeded my plans for 5 of them. I've been the the gym (a lot!), gave up sugar and four, found the answers to some strange health stuff, Found more time to do what I love, and make more time for my friends. The only one I didn't really figure out was getting some financial stuff straightened out and switching 401k's, but pretty much the way the economy is going it's no big deal that I didn't make time for that.

So, onto 2009. I take resolutions seriously not just because it's the beginning of the year, but because I make these changes with the Lord's leading and believe they are changes He would have me make. If I don't keep them I feel like I'm letting Him down too. I try to incorporate changes as I can into my time with Him so it becomes a committment that we are making together. So, drum roll please, here are the resolutions for 2009!

1. Health: Give up ALL chemical sweetners. I'm about 90% there, but I have NO faith that aspartame and splenda and all that are in any way good for you, so out they go. I use Stevia for everything and even grow my own (I know-I'm so Martha Stewart!). It's a great alternative to sugar and sweetners.

2. Gym: I love the gym, but I get kind of obsessed with it so this year - 3 times a week and that's all. That's plenty anyway.

3. Quiet time/journaling - This year I plan to make a more concentrated effort to not only be aware of what the Lord is doing, but documenting it.

And that's it for now. I feel like those things are all I'm supposed to focus on this year so that's what I'm going to do! What are your resolutions?

Happy 2009!

A Coffee Filled Christmas

Oh my goodness! I love Christmas and you should see the coffee stuff that has crossed my path during the holidays. I don't know how you all could even know I like coffee (ahem) but I'm so glad you do! Here's the rundown of some of my favorite gifts . . . . . .

A Coffee zip up jacket (oh my word - it's adorable)
Coffee earrings
A coffee house for my kitchen
Starbucks pitcher for steaming milk
Starbucks espresso shot glasses
25 coffee ornaments (so cute!)
Starbucks coffee (pounds and pounds)
Starbucks gift cards
Starbucks coffee mugs
Starbucks Tazo Tea set
A new sign for my coffee themed kitchen that says Expresso yourself! LOVE IT!
A coffee clock that has a swinging spoon as a second hand (the greatest!)
A coffee bank that says money money money for coffee coffee coffee
A coffee desk clock that's a teeny tiny espresso machine

And I'm so sure I'm forgetting something, but I love them all! I'll post pictures soon!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

Oh I love to see Christmas come and I love to see Christmas go. It might have something to do with working in retail that makes me glad when the holidays leave. I had a wonderfully quiet day. My grandparents were on their way but had some problems in Virginia and have opted to stay there through the weekend. It was sad they didn't make it for Christmas, but since I have had the flu/cold for over a week it was nice to stay on the couch with the dogs all day and watch movies. That sounds pathetic, but when you work 7 days a week you'll take a day off whenever you can get it! Since I live in Georgia I even went out and washed my car to get a little fresh air. It was so nice outside which is partially why it never feels like Christmas here. But, when I watch the snow and ice on the news I'm glad I don't even own a shovel and can always run out if I need to. We get paid back in the summer though when it's 100 degrees every day for 2 months!

I was going to go see Marley and Me yesterday but was glad I opted not to when people sent me messages not to see it. Apparently they were the ones that I saw Eight Below with where the dogs died and Brenda almost died herself of dehydration. Marley apparently dies and all of those people know I can't handle animals dying. Really I can't handle it.

But it does remind me of a great story John Maxwell tells. He was driving down the road when the car in front of him opened the passenger door and going 55 mph pushed a gorgeous collie out the door. The dog slid across the pavement with a visibly broken leg bloody and bruised. But it's what happened next that amazed John Maxwell. The dog limped up and started after the car with his master in it. Though He slay me - I will follow.

Oh how I want to be that kind of Christian. When Satan drags me under the cars of life and pushes me to the ground going 55 miles an hour and leaves me for dead on the side of the road - that I would get up and find Him and trust Him to come get me and heal me and set me free. I'm so glad He came not only to rescue us from this life but to be with us through it. My very favorite name for God is Emmanuel - God with us. We are not alone.

To those of you who feel alone I hope you can feel the Lord wrap his arms of mercy and grace around you and whisper hope to you from His heart. This season is His gift to us of Himself but also a great reminder that He knows, he understands, he cares, and he loves you. Start the new year with renewed hope and trust and faith in Him. If you make no other resolutions for next year, make one to fall madly in love with the one who loves you more than anyone else ever could.

Lord, in the year ahead we're coming after You - wholeheartedly, unashamed, desperately we're seeking your heart and based on your Word, we're going to find it. We're going to stop saying we'll seek you with all our heart and actually do it. We'll push past excuses and put you first in all things. And we'll be different a year from today for making that committment to you. With ALL our hearts we thank you for coming as a little baby, living as a human being, and dying as our savior. And we love you for rising again and taking your rightful place in Heaven where you are interceeding for us and preparing a place for us. We can't wait to see you but until then we're living 100% for you from now on! Amen

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Update on Missy and Ryan

Some of you have asked me for an update on Missy and Ryan. This was posted on their site tonight. Ryan seems to be doing better lately. Missy has had some good days, but continues to fight an uphill battle. She remains on hospice care. I know it is on their hearts and minds that this could be her last Christmas. Both Missy and Ryan face important scans and tests right after the first of the year that will determine their next steps in treatment. Thanks for praying for this precious family - especially this time of year.

From Les (Missy's husband and Ryan's dad)

It's Christmas eve and all a calm at the Morgan house. Why? because so many people filled Missy's shoes and put together a fantastically easy, joyous, bountiful, memorable, heartfelt, love filled Christmas. For that, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart as there was no way we could have come close to pulling it all together this year. I know Missy says she's feeling good a lot but those are simple snippets of her day. The majority of her day she works harder than she should do try and care for our family the way she is used to doing. Most of you have been brought into our lives by the angel hallows that surround Missy and Ryan. They are good and caring. Both relish in bringing a smile to the faces of everyone they meet. They are why we have a small army helping our family through the toughest of times.So Thank you again, one and all, and especially to my Missy and Ryan. With Hope and Belief, Merry Christmas. Les, Missy, Heidi, Will and SuperRyan.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Things are getting crazy in the world of Brenda and I know you all are crazy busy too. I'm going to take a break from blogging until the new year. I promise (again!) to tell you my new year's resolutions. . . . ..goodness, I just love accountability. . . . .ahem. But it worked last year so I might as well do it again right? And I would encourage you if you don't have a prayer journal for 2009 consider getting a copy of Prayers of my heart by Debbie Williams. Beth Moore uses this which is how I knew about it. it's amazing. I've loved mine all year and can't wait to start a new one next year.
A big happpy congratulations to my dear friend from college Katie on her engagement! I wish I lived in California and could help you plan and be excited with you. You deserve all the happiness in the world!
Hope you all enjoy the holiday season. Talk to you next year!!! :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let there be light

I have to say that honestly I'm drawn to the darker side of life. I can rejoice with those who rejoice, but it doesn't really come naturally to me. I'm much better at mourning with those who mourn. It's not really a bad thing. There's a whole lotta people in the world who get very uncomfortable around those people who are struggling. I'm just not one of them. I prefer the middle of the night to the middle of the day. I don't mind getting up early, but I'd much rather stay up late at night. I'm not - at all - afraid of the dark. I have at times though been afraid of the light.

I started 2008 with an entry in my journal about suicide. Not that I was planning to commit suicide (I don't know if you go to hell if you do, but I'm not trying to find out), but just that for the first time I could honestly gut level relate to why people do. I don't really mean that to sound morbid, but I was just at the end of everything. I was tired - really tired - of being depressed. Actually I was tired of everything. And that's the problem with suicide - it makes people think things will always be like they are right this moment. The truth is, we don't know what's around the bend. But He does.

I started to send out a Christmas newsletter, but soon realized nothing terribly exciting has happened in my life this year. I think it's occasionally interesting, but not enough so that other people would want to read about it during the busiest time of the year. Plus, this blog serves as way too much information for most of the people in my life anyway.

I don't know exactly how to put into words what the Lord has done in the past few months, but even more so the last few weeks. He has delivered me from the bondage of depression, out of the pit of despair, out of the depths of sorrow and into his glorious light. On January 1st, 2008 I never could have seen it coming. I'm still not really sure how it happened, but I'm so glad it did. The only way I can even come close to explaining it is to say that I feel like one of the wise men, traveling through the desert - tired, hungry, thirsty, and miserable and when I thought I could not take another step or another breath, looking up to see the star, the light, what I had been searching for all along guiding me to a gift of peace and hope and joy unspeakable.

I have heard and continue to hear the voice of the Lord in the depths of my soul saying, "Let there be light" to all kinds of situations in my life. Jesus came over 2000 years ago to bring light and even with the world spinning seemingly out of control, he's still bringing that light to every heart that beats for him. I'm so glad he came. I'm so glad his gifts keep giving. I'm so glad he cares enough to bring his light to this little life trying to live for him.

I wish I could send every single one of you a handwritten Christmas card that would tell you how wonderful I think you are and how much I hope you have a wonderful year, but unfortunately I do not have time for that many cards! I hope you know how much I appreciate all of you in my life this year and how I wish the very best Christmas for all of you. Praying God would meet you at every turn and be faithful to you each step of the way. I hope you hear him speaking to every situation you face saying. . .. . . . . .

Let there be light!

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tagged-Eight things about me

I've been tagged to answer these questions so here you go.

8 TV shows I watch
1. Nancy Grace
2. Good Morning America
3. Grey's Anatomy
4. Oprah
5. Ellen
6. Top Chef
7. Whatever Martha
8. The Soup

8 Favorite Restaurants
1. Applebees
2. Quizno's
3. 306 North
4. Zaxby's
5. Moe's
6. Wendy's
7. Hungry Howie's
8. Papa John's Pizza

8 Things that happened to me today
1. I delivered Christmas presents for our adopt a family
2. I had my brand new featherbed delivered (YIPPEE! I can't wait to go to sleep!)
3. I ate at Slapdaddy's (an experience!)
4. I made my own gingerbread latte at home with my espresso machine (and it was good!)
5. I played ball with Ella
6. I got 3 Christmas presents - a coffee bank, a sign, and a gift card :)
7. I ate grilled cheese for breakfast
8. I wore my favorite high heels

8 Things I'm looking forward to
1. Finishing cleaning my house
2. Sleeping in my new featherbed
3. Playing with my dogs when I get home
4. Having my Christmas shopping done after tonight
5. 2nd work Christmas party on Friday
6. Enjoying the 80 degree weather this week!
7. Driving home with the top off my convertable
8. Putting my new Cocker Spaniel flag in my yard tonight


Tuesday Book Review

This is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a beautifully written memoir of a man who's wife is dying. It includes entries from her journal, comments from their children, and the beautiful acceptance of grace when her journey "home" becomes inevitable. I have given this book many, many times and it remains one of my favorites.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Operation clean my house

I keep my house picked up maybe 90% of the time, but I do not CLEAN my house every week. 1. I'm the only one who lives there and 2. I don't even live there that many hours a week. So, usually when I end up with company coming it throws me into a tailspin. I would really like to be a person who's home stayed ready for company and that may make the new year's resolution list, but quite frankly - I'm not. So when my grandparents announced that there's a good chance they are heading to Georgia SATURDAY as in THIS SATURDAY I was like uh oh. So, I'm forgoing the gym this week to get my house and guest rooms in order and trust me - it will be a workout!
On a positive note I have gotten rid of a whopping 350 books in the last few weeks and have 16 bags of clothes ready to go to goodwill. Progress has been made! Just not enough really :) With any luck I can work really hard tonight and tomorrow night and be done! I see starbucks in my future - like in 2.5 hours!
To cleaning!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ticking Clock

I really don't mind working in mental health - I definitely have the personality for it. I can spend all weekend laughing and crying and listening with people who have never been in a more terrible state - and then go home Sunday night and not give it much more thought until Friday night. I care about the people while I am there, but I don't dwell on it when I am not. You can't. It would drive you crazy. Mentally unhealthy people are draining. Really draining. But really I don't mind. I know they're draining and I expect them to be just that when I walk through the door.

And the endurance of all people is different. I have seen some addicts come in bound and determined this will be their one and only attempt at detox, they give it all they've got, and they succeed. I like these people :) I've seen others fail a few times, but not give up, and end up being successful. And some people just don't get it before they give up. And sometimes the depression, the Bipolar, the Schizophrenia, the grief, the addiction, the loss - it's eventually too much.

I call these people ticking clocks. Those of you not dealing with the suicidal and desperate may not relate. I can see the same people over and over and over again, but sometimes, in some people something in their eyes change. I can't really describe it, but I just know and it gives me chills everytime. I've seen it happen too often - Oh, they go through the motions, but you can tell in their eyes they have a secret and the next chance they get, they're getting out of here. And at least 99% of the time, I see their obituary pop up in the newspaper within a week or 2. It's morbid - I know - but it has happened too often to not be true. And I dread it happening because as much as I believe and pray for a miracle in their life, usually this is the beginning of the end.

I saw it today in a woman who has seriously fought the good fight. I just saw her not too long ago, but today, again, her eyes were different. I even asked her if she had given up and she assured me she had not - lie. I just know. I don't know why. I just do. And even though I can see it coming from a mile away, it will still take my breath away if her name pops up in the newspaper in the next few weeks, but I'm telling you - it will.

I wish people came with a gage - a little monitor on the outside so that you would know exactly how much more they can handle before they totally lose it. I'm thankful that we have One who knows just how much we can take and promises not to overburden us if we give our burdens to him. The one who holds the future and reveals it as we are able to receive and understand is gracious and kind. People who are living without Him are spiritually miserable to start with and have nowhere to place the burdens of this world - I'm glad I can't imagine. I pray peace for them all the time and that in their journey of desperation they would find the burden bearer who is standing willing and able to take their load. I pray that tonight even for the woman who is in ICU fighting for a life she does not want anyway.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Quote of the week

I love Ezekiel and this is one of my favorite verses.

Ezekiel 1:28 (New International Version)
28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.

Have a great weekend! Talk to you Monday :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


If I do say so myself, my deviled eggs with bacon are YUMMY! I can't wait to take them to the party tonight! Yippee! Every once in awhile I have to remind people that I can cook - I just usually choose not to :) Should be a fun party. I'm breaking out some new stilleto heels for such a time as this! I may be barefoot before the singing begins :) Hope you guys are enjoying the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There will be a day

No book review for yesterday or this week because I have no time to read! Goodness knows. I'm at work until 9 and then I have to go home and make 2 dozen deviled eggs for a Christmas party tomorrow night. I could go the rest of my life without eating a deviled egg, but nonetheless I'm going to make a really cool recipe for them with bacon. I almost finished my Christmas shopping yesterday and have 2 gifts to finish making then I can be done with that. I have managed to buy everything Dora on our little adopted family's list - good heavens, who knew Dora ruled everything from toothbrushes to t-shirts?? Remember - I have no kids! I was impressed the status of Dora though. . .she's everywhere!

I like news, but it's depressing lately isn't it? So many people are struggling, Illinois representatives are acting ridiculous, unemployment rates are skyrocketing while the economy plummets. It's all too much really and it makes me long for a better place where there will be no need to worry and the end will never come. I think that day we'll be finally where we've longed to be since before we were born and we'll know we're home.

If you don't have Jeremy Camp's latest CD you should, but this song is quickly becoming my new favorite. It's There will come a day and here are the lyrics. . . .

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have. But I feel the weight of what it brings,
and the hurt that trys to grab The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth, that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings That there will be a place with no more suffering There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always I know the journey seems so long You feel your walking on your own But there has never been a step [ Jeremy Camp Lyrics are found on ] Where you’ve walked out all alone Troubled soul don’t lose your heart Cause joy and peace he brings And the beauty that’s in store Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery this is why this is why I sing….There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face There will be a day, He’ll wipe away the stains, He’ll wipe away the tears, He’ll wipe away the tears…..there will be a day.

Whatever you're facing today He knows and more importantly he cares. Don't lose heart!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nancy Grace

Maybe I'm just a little bit sarcastic but I LOVE Nancy Grace. I try not to miss it on CNN. She's probably a little harsh at times, but if I was in trouble with the law I would want her on my side! I've especially enjoyed her commentary lately on the crazy girl in jail who lost her daughter/sent the daughter with the nanny/whatever her story is at the moment. Nancy Grace - the best!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Top 10 of 2008

Well, the year is winding down and before much longer it's going to be out of control crazy, so I'm going to do this now before I forget. Here's the top 10 events of the life of Brenda for 2008 :)

10. When Starbucks announced a ton of closures my starbucks was not on the list :) Maybe because they have a not so annonymous donor??

9. Keeping my last year's new years resolution to go to the gym 3-5 times per week. . . success!

8. Giving up eating sugar 14 weeks ago. Stuck with it!!!!!

7. Giving up eating flour 14 weeks ago. Stuck with it!!!!!!!!

6. Having my grandparents stay with me for 3 months. They keep my house clean, do laundry, all the yard work, and are great company. See you guys this winter!

5. Hiring a lawn man last spring. . . . best money I ever spent.

4. Getting rid of my iphone (hated it) and switching to a Blackberry (love it) - don't shoot me - just my opinion!

3. Going to Yoga 2 times a week. I love the calmness of it.

2. Seeing Tina Turner live in concert for her farewell tour during a WONDERFUL weekend!

1. Finding God to be infinitely faithful in the big things and the small, in the easy and the hard, in the mundane and the eternal.

To 2009!!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Simply Heavenly

I'm not a huge bath and body works fan, but these 2 products are my new favorites. The new Sleep aromatherapy in lavendar chamomile and the new bubble bath sets are HEAVENLY. They have some great deals for the holidays and who doesn't want to smell good?? :)

A blessing

My sweet friend Kathy sent this to me a few weeks ago and I meant to put it on the blog then and forgot. So, I'm including it now. It's from Beth Moore and might just be the most encouraging thing to cross my path in a long time. Enjoy!

My Beloved Sister in Christ -
May God keep your heart set on your pilgrimage. May He keep your eyes upon the destination and never let you forget that your goal is a person - Jesus Christ and He is waiting for you --in person-- at your finish line. May you always remember what a great cloud of witnesses cheer you on in your journey to Mt. Zion and bids you to “be brave”! The race is not long, Beloved, so run hard! May your eyes be open to snares your enemy sits in your path and should you tumble in the ditch, may your troubled heart be disallowed to condemn you. Jump in the air, twirl around and buck like a bronco with repentance before your God until not a single speck of mud is left on your feet. Let God wash them in the water of His Word and plant them back on your path. When we feel heavy laden in our journeys, may we check first to see if it’s the burden of taking on a role that only belongs to God. May we lay down what has no place in our packs and run with the wind. When life is excruciating, may you find strength in Christ to crawl on your hands and knees, sowing the Word of God and watering it with your tears. May you never forget that you are inconceivably loved and that God will prove infinitely faithful. And on your way to the great feast in the heavenly Jerusalem, may you glance often to your right and to your left and offer a fellow pilgrim a helping hand. May the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, bless you from Zion.

Thank you Kathy! You bless me every day!


I love December, really I do, but I also dread it. I cannot tell you how packed slap full my December is this year. I realize that I have no children and no family coming and STILL, filled to the brim. It's frustrating.

I have put off annual dr. visits until this week, personal training at the gym till this month, 2 work Christmas parties, gifts wrapped and shipped all over, and 2 full time jobs mixed in. We support a local family for gifts at the store which I'm so blessed to be a part of, but it's not everyday I go shopping for Candyland and Dora books. . . my heavens! Add to it the month where you cannot get away with not cooking because everywhere you go wants you to bring something . . . .ugh. And since I haven't eaten sugar or flour in the last 13 weeks I'm real excited to go to holiday feasts! I digress.

I just want time to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and thank the Lord over and over again for coming to Earth for me. I want to thank him for surviving adolescence and the hardships of a young adult and the weight of being fully human and fully divine just to die on the cross. . . .for me. I want to read the Christmas story every day and realize how amazing it is that Mary was obedient and Joseph was understanding. The absolute miracle that was his birth, his life, his death, his life everlasting. . . . .I'm still amazed.

I want time to admire the baby in the manger and try to grasp the idea that in that tiny baby hand was eternity. That somewhere in that tiny little package beat a heart that had my name on it. That somewhere in the mind of that infant was the knowledge that 2000+ years later a young woman in the Earth, North America, Georgia, Valdosta, Hilltop Circle would need a Savior. I hope He knew even then that I would love Him and aspire every day to be more like him.

So, I'm going to take care of all of my responsibilties this month because I'm committed to them, but I'm also trying despreately to fit in little moments where I can stand in his glory and appreciate his earthly life. What are you doing this Christmas to keep Jesus in focus?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Personal Training

Well, I love going to the gym, but I pretty much just stay there until I get either bored or tired (I know great strategy!). So, it's time to crack down to stay in shape through the holidays. I hired a personal trainer who works at my gym. It doesn't cost that much more than the gym membership and it will make me actually go stay there until I finish a workout. I feel 10% excited and 90% like I'm going to be half dead after tomorrow morning!

Tuesday Book Review

This book is filled to the brim with great quotes and it is an amazing book, but this quote is my favorite.

"Ill winds may blow, more character defects may surface, sickness may visit, and friends will surely die, but a stubborn irrefutable certainty persists that God is with us and loves us in our struggle to be faithful." - Brennen Manning

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Odyssey!

To my favorite boy in all the world! I can't believe we've been best friends for 6 years. . . oh my. I remember flying all the way to Illinois to get you and the first night when you wouldn't sleep thinking I made a huge mistake! It was short lived because you had my heart on the plane ride home when you peeked out of your crate every 5 minutes just to see if I was still there! You have taught me so much about loyalty and being a friend - you're the best at it!

I love that you always know what kind of day I've had.
I love that you jump up and down when I come in the door even if I just went to get the mail!
I love that you don't hurt Ella even though she fusses at you sometimes.
I love that if Ella pitches a fit you'll give her your bone even if you're not finished with it.
I love that you'll do anything for cheese and chicken.
I love that you love your bear and you go get it at night and take it to bed with you.

I hope you know I've loved you every day of your life and there's no stopping me now. Happy Birthday sweet boy!

January book of the month

The first book in the bookclub is The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. This print hangs in my dining room and I love love love it! Henri Nouwen is one of my favorites. So, enjoy and we'll talk about it the end of January.