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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting on 2011, Looking Ahead to 2012.

Midnight marks the ending of one year, and the beginning of a new one. I'll be at home with the kiddos, wearing silly New Year's Eve hats and 2012 sunglasses, drinking sparkling grape juice and playing with sparklers. :)

A few of the ways I'm waving goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012:

Linking to (in)courage and looking back on 2011: 20 Questions for a New Year's Eve Reflection. I've already begun a new journal, and this is the first entry.

Arming myself with the Word and gaining control of my thoughts, my emotions, and my physical health. I'm determined to start 2012 with a fresh outlook and a healthier lifestyle, and to teach my children to do the same. Reading the Bible dAiLy, as well as "Battlefield of the Mind" and "Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now" by Joyce Meyer, and "Reshaping it All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness" by Candace Cameron Bure.

CLEANING HOUSE! Physically AND Spiritually! January marks the beginning of a new year, what better time to begin clearing out the clutter and making room for new, beautiful things? Doing this with the help of Sarah Mae. I bought her eBook months ago and I think it's way past time to put it to good use! (If you've seen my house lately, you understand.)

Looking forward to (in)RL in April 2012! :)

Becoming a child sponsor for Amazima, and hopefully sponsoring a child through Compassion. Praying about these things and feeling confident that God will give me the ability to do so.

and... last, but certainly not least, praying for peace, comfort, happiness, love and joy for all of you in the new year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pink is my signature color...

Get (in)couraged, meet (in)RL, and get your verse on, too!

The amazing people over at (in)courage are sharing LOTS of Christmas cheer this year! Click here to head on over there and hopefully win some Christmas pretties! 12 days of giveaways (and 78 gifts to give away!) to celebrate the upcoming (in)RL "no need for packing or travel un-conference" and, of course, Christmas! The best part? Even though it's the 5th day of Christmas,   all 12 days of giveaways will remain open until they've sung their way through all twelve verses and 78 gifts! If you are just finding out about the giveaway fun, you can enter today, and go back and enter the giveaways for Days 1-4! 

Haven't heard about (in)RL? Mark your calendars for April 27 & 28, 2012, because you won't want to miss it! Click here for more information, and don't forget to register while you are there! Fun, friendship, fellowship, (and a t-shirt!) right here in the ArkLaTex, all for $10! (in)courage will even have a few free goodies for us! I will be posting details about the location closer to the date! Please visit our local meetup page and RSVP today! 

(in)courage and Wild Olive Tees are hosting another fun giveaway, open until Thursday December 8 at midnight EST. They are giving away 4 Wild Olive Tees, and trust me, you want to rock one of these gorgeous shirts! Get over there, enter to win, and "get your verse on!" 

Scenes from this morning...

... and things that make my heart happy. 

1.) My driveway... puddles and all. 2.) What winter should look like, but in Louisiana, often doesn't. I love days like this. 3.) The pretty red bird on my Christmas tree. 4.) Cold and rainy outside, snuggly warm inside. 5.) Starbucks... I live in the sticks, and you are far away from me now, but I will see you soon. :P (Thank God for Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer, the next best thing!)

What makes your heart happy today? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A lil' dash of Magnolia wisdom...

... when life hands you lemons, squeeze them into some sweet iced tea and thank GOD you were born a Southern girl! 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Today, I am gonna get me a mason jar, fill it to the brim with sweet Luzianne iced tea, and squeeze the heck out of those lemons!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is a Steel Magnolia?

How do you define what it means to be a Steel Magnolia? I have to confess: I googled it. I love Google. But back to the matter at hand... I found a post on this blog that describes us Southern Belles perfectly:

The dictionary defines the word steel as "strong, durable, unflinching in character" and the word magnolia as "any of the various evergreen or deciduous trees of the genus magnolia, cultivated for their showy flowers in colors of white, pink, purple or yellow."

Where we come from, a Steel Magnolia is the combination of the two definitions above...and so much more.
She is the very essence of strength combined with femininity. She is a woman who enjoys being a woman, and is well aware of the power that comes with it. She is the backbone of her family, in good times and bad; and "family" means so much more than just blood kin to her – it encompasses anyone to whom she is tied by heartstrings.
She takes great pleasure in being there for those she loves, and in filling their needs. She will even put her own needs on the back burner to do this, and never give it a second thought. And it doesn't matter to her if she's filling a need that will earn her recognition and praise or if it's so "behind the scenes" that no one ever even knows who filled it.

The only reward she needs is the knowledge that the need was filled.It is she who holds the family together when everyone else is ready to quit; she is the very foundation of the South, and the rock on which it was built.
It is she who cares for the sick, both in her family and anyone else's who may need an extra hand when they are unable to carry their load alone. It is she who manages to scrimp, save and pinch pennies till they holler when times are tight – and does without, herself – so that her family doesn't go without what they need. It is she who keeps the churches alive by seeing that her family is there for all activities, by taking part in them herself and just generally filling any position that might need filled from Sunday School teacher to singing in the choir to getting the communion ready to arranging flowers for the sanctuary.
It is she who gives even more hours of her already-full day to organizations that do good for her community and around the world – groups like Red Cross, Junior Leagues, homeless shelters, shelters for abused women and hospitals, just to name a very few. It is also she who teaches her children the values of love, compassion, courage, strength, spirituality, joy, and even sorrow. She teaches them that it is not a sin to make a mistake; but it is one not to try. She teaches them that it's perfectly normal to have weak moments when you want to quit; but it's not good to give in to the urge to do so. It is she who teaches them that they can be anything they want to be, and have anything they want out of life; the sky's the limit – if they want it badly enough to work really hard for it.
She also teaches them about the "graces" of life – the beauty of sparkling, beautifully cut crystal, the patina of well-polished silver that's been passed down from one generation to the next, the sentimental value of having your table set for special occasions with Great-grandmother's china (even though the pattern has long since been discontinued) and Grandmother's Battenburg table linens that her son brought to her from a cruise when he was in the Navy. She shows them the beauty and elegance of a table set with her finest appointments and graced with beautiful fresh-cut flowers, usually from her own garden. It is she who teaches them about family traditions...and those who made them.
She is also an excellent cook. Among the most-treasured possessions passed down through the generations of Steel Magnolias are family recipes. These recipes may have begun as bare-bones recipes made out of whatever staples happened to be on hand in the family pantry during lean times. But, generations later, they have been embellished by each one who used them until they have reached near-gourmet standards. And, in this day and time, they have also been made low-fat without sacrificing taste; because Steel Magnolias have their family's well-being in mind at all times.
Steel Magnolias care very much about their appearance, but it is very important that you realize that all of them are not beauty queens – although we certainly have more than our fair share of those who are. While all Steel Magnolias are taught very early on to "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative", everyone knows their real beauty comes from within. While the phrase, "Pretty is as pretty does" is certainly one all Southern girls cut their teeth on, it comes closer to being true than they generally realize until they get a bit wiser.
The beauty of a Steel Magnolia is one that shines from within her; it's a glow that all the best makeup in the world, most artfully applied, can never begin to duplicate – much less surpass. It's a glow that comes from her genuine love of others, her deep interest in them and how their life is going, her concern for how she might make things better for her world. It comes from her not just looking at your eyes, but into your heart, when she is a part of your world. It comes from knowing that she will be there to laugh with you, as any loved one will; but she will also be there to hold you, cry with you, and roll up her sleeves and help you work your way out of rock bottom when life puts you there. The real secret to a Steel Magnolia's beauty is that it is purely and simply a reflection that comes from how you see her in your heart.
Steel Magnolias love all the trappings of femininity; as the song says, they are strictly female females and enjoy being that way. They can flirt with the best of them, and generally do. In the South, no one takes offense at this, because they all have the gene! The only competition involved is seeing who can outflirt you…or, if you're a Southern Gentleman, seeing how many Magnolias you can have flirting with you at one time!
Steel Magnolias have a unique way of speaking – a combination of that famous accent which they can thicken at will and phrases like none you've ever heard anywhere else; this dialect is known around the world, and loved by virtually everyone who hears it. Especially men. And, when the situation warrants it, they are also quite capable of cutting a deserving person into ribbons with their words in such a way that that person will not only thank them for it at the time, but not even realize that they've been shredded until much later down the road. It's an ability with which they are all quite fluent, and a power that is used very judiciously; but, believe me, you do not want to be a recipient of this particular talent of a Steel Magnolia!
And, in this day of equal rights, a Steel Magnolia knows that she has her place in the workplace that is equal to any man's; but she also knows that she is the one with the real power in personal matters. Their gentlemen know this as well; they accept its wisdom and know full well it's worth the price to be the center of a Steel Magnolia's world! These are men who know the meaning of words like "chivalry", "charm", "silver-tongued devil", "rogue", "rake" and "rascal" because they are all a part of them. And we love them for these things.
You see, a Steel Magnolia doesn't consider it an insult to have a door opened for her, or to be helped into her coat, or other such gentlemanly things done for her; she knows these things are not done because her gentleman thinks she is incapable of doing them herself – he does them out of respect and his love for her. It is his way of showing he enjoys taking care of her in small ways, as well as large. It is a reciprocation of tenderness between the two.
All Steel Magnolias are a combination of every stereotypical Southern woman tv and the movies have made famous, from Scarlett and Melanie in Gone with the Wind, to Julia, Charlene, Mary Jo and Suzanne on Designing Women, to M'Lynn, Shelby, Clairee, Annelle, Truvy and – yes – even Ouiser in Steel Magnolias; we may each have more of one of the stereotypes in our makeup than the rest, but they all reside inside us – believe me! And, in case you don't know this already, I am very proud to consider myself a member of this elite group.

Original text © 1998, Mary Lynn Hatfield, Found on this blog.

That being said, welcome to my blog, Steel Magnolia.