Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Are we really just two short days away from rolling into next year? I can hardly believe it. This time last year so much was changing for the bad and for the good. Our friend, Cheryl had just passed away. The Red Door was about to open and we were all so lively and excited as we dreamt of what it would be and could be. I didn't expect it to end as soon as it has. I started my job with State Farm. My job has really been the ONLY consistency in 2008. I have learned a lot and it has been very much a blessing in every aspect. Wow, it doesn't seem like it's been a year at all. I can't believe how fast it has flown.

Here's to 2009...

I have no idea what to expect. Everytime I write a New Years Resolution, it is abolutely and completely interrupted in some way or another.

The only thing that I'm saying right now is that I really want to focus on being a better person this year, sacrificing my needs and wants for others, lending a hand when needed, offering an ear to someone who needs to talk and simply loving and accepting each and every person who walks into my life this year as well as the ones who are already in my life.

There is SO much I wish to change about myself and so much I want to do. However, I'm not focusing on the big picture right now as it could become entirely overwhelming. Little by little. Step by step.

I hope that this time next year I can say with confidence that I accomplished much this year by truly becoming less self centered and more aware of the needs of others. I also pray that I truly surrender my heart and soul to God again. I've come so far and realize that I am in need of a turn around.

2009...I'm ready for you :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Couple of pictures...

Here are a few pictures from over the Holidays. I have TONS more but I always have a difficult time putting pictures on this thing. It takes me forever to organize them and they always seem to be spaced so far apart. Ugh. Does anyone know an easier way to do it? I prefer facebook's super fast and easy picture uploader! =) So, check there if you wish to see more!

Our Christmas cats, Pippin and Charlie.

The kitten and I

My gorgeous little (well, not so little anymore) sister, Hannah and I at a beautiful candle-lit Christmas wedding. I can't believe how grown up she is...she'll be 17 in a few months. It just seems unreal!

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Christmas.

I had an amazing Christmas! I hope all of you did as well!! I always get so sad the day after Christmas when no more Christmas songs are played on our "Christmas station". As annoying as some can be, I still like turning on my radio to hear songs like "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and "Oh Holy Night". It just makes me happy.

I love Christmas. It's definitely my most favorite Holiday and I can't understand people who dislike it. The other day a man came in the office and I wished him a "Merry Christmas" as I did to everyone during the latter part of this month.

He responded with a gruff "I'm so ready for this Christmas cr*p to be over!"

I stared at him smiling and said "Well, it's what you make it and I hope that you really have a Merry Christmas!

He shot a smile back and said "Well, thank you very much" in a much kinder voice.

I think most people just see Christmas as a busy time of year making the shopping and traffic impossible and they miss out on what it's really all about. Some just choose to be Scrooges for no good reason (ugh I can't stand that!) and some simply don't have loved ones or close friends to spend it with thus causing them to feel alone.

This Christmas I was so thankful for all that I got as it was so much more than I even wanted or could have asked for. I was completely surprised at the amount of gifts my parents purchased for me and I loved every solitary thing. I am so blessed. However, I'm even more thankful for all that I have and not materialistic things but the huge blessings in my life such as a wonderful family, amazing friends, good health, a job, steady income, and my faith which has become dwindled lately. I have no good excuse as to why but I must remain honest with myself. My New Years resolution will be long this year but I must keep renewing and restoring my faith and relationship with God at the top. It is so important to me. I do not like what I have become lately, I'm not me. I'm withholding so much. So, here's to some needed change in my life.

We spent the day yesterday opening gifts, cooking and eating a huge and delicious breakfast, cooking a delicious lunch entailing turkey, honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potato soufle, broccoli and cheese caserole, green bean casserole, pepperoni rolls and dinner rolls. Needless to say it was a feast! We ate lunch with my Uncle, Aunt and little cousins and then we went to the movies. Going to the movies on Christmas day has kind of become a tradition for us. It's crazy how packed it is! We went and saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". Very interesting movie. It was weird but I enjoyed it. It's very lengthy (3 hours) but it really gives you a neat perspective on the cycle of life, time and those you cherish. I actually got a lot out of it, surprisingly. I definitely recommend if you like weird movies and can sit still for that long :)

How was your Christmas? I hope you all had an incredible day! :)


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

I know my last post was a little gloomy and depressing, sorry. I know that I probably should not have written it this close to Christmas but with it being the one year Anniversary, I didn't think about it much.

Thank you all for your sweet comments.

I did want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!

Today we're cooking up a storm and all sorts of really amazing smells are filling our home! I have TONS of presents to wrap and cleaning to do. My aunt, uncle and little cousins are coming to have Christmas dinner with us tomorrow! It should be a lot of fun.

It feels like Christmas, all except for one thing...it's 75 degrees outside... =( Blah. One thing I hate about Florida is the fact that we don't get real seasons! So, we have the a/c blasting just so we can have a fire and not roast to death. Blah Florida on Christmas! It's crazy because Monday morning it was 27 degrees and just 2 days later it's 75! What!?

Sometimes I wish I lived a little further north during the Holidays. I miss snow on Christmas but I love the beach in the summer. Too bad I can't have both. =/

Well, I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and that we all remember the real reason we celebrate this blessed Holiday season.

Much Love,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Christmas was a nightmare.

I've never written about this in my public blog, ever. Simply because I never wanted to revisit those cold, bitter and oh so dissatisfying memories. I have filled journal page after journal page of thoughts, prayers, anger, resentment, hurt and confusion from what happened this time last year, but never have I written publicly about it.

For some reason I feel okay and released to do so now.

December 1. We received a chilling phone call from a friend who uttered the words "Cheryl's missing".

"Missing? What do you mean, missing?"

"She's missing. No one has heard from her in two days. She never turned up to teach Sunday School and she didn't show up to work on Monday either."

"What? Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Her car was located on the shoulder of highway 319 kind of far off the road near the woods and she is nowhere to be found. Her purse was in her car but her wallet was empty. Someone robbed her and someone took Cheryl."

As my mom conveyed this very disturbing conversation to me, I could not comprehend what was being said to me. Almost as if I dismissed it as some sick joke.

"Who would ever take Ms. Cheryl??? Why?"

I was entirely confused by the concept. My mind wouldn't let me register it as being true.


When I was about 8 years old, we relocated to Crawfordville, FL, a little suburb of Tallahassee, FL and began attending a Church in a town called Sopchoppy (we actually ended up moving to Sopchoppy later that year). This church eventually became our world. We made some of the best friends, created some of the most amazing memories and learned some extremely vital lessons while there. Among the people we connected with there, Ms. Cheryl became a key role model to ever enter my life around the age of 10. She began teaching a class for young girls and I, among many other girls my age were privileged to be in her class. She wasn't like the other teachers we had in the past. She really took pride in what she did and went above and beyond her role to lead us. We had countless sleepovers at her house while eating innumerable amounts of cookie dough and toaster strudels and then all 8 of us would pile in her king size water bed, giggling and such until the wee hours of the morning. She didn't mind when we said she had "gray highlights" and she took us on countless trips to town as we would stop at her in-home care patients homes along the way to help her visit and "tend" to them.

My sisters and I thought she was the coolest lady in the whole world as well as many of our other friends. I remember some weekends when mom would say "Girls, Ms. Cheryl is picking you up from school today and you're going to stay the night with her!" and the excitement would ensue. We knew we were in for a sleepless nights with lots of food, movies and possible front yard camp outs. One Friday in particular I remember her picking us up and informing us that we were going to be cheerleaders at her son's football birthday party. We excitedly got our costumes ready, pom poms and pony tails and proceeded to cheer for the "home team" in their backyard. We thought we were cool stuff.

She had 2 sons but never had any daughters. I suppose she would have loved to have a daughter by the way she acted with all of us girls. We loved her so much and she really loved us.

There was a time when I became very sick and was having lots of physical problems and she, being the great nurse that she was helped me through a very difficult time physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As we all approached our teen years, we stayed close to her. Her and her son Jake were the only people who helped us move from Sopchoppy to Pensacola and they, too eventually moved here so she could attend the Bible school my dad taught at. She lived about a half a mile away from us and the sleepovers continued as well as the fun times. Some of the girls would occasionally come over for a visit and we would all hang out at Ms. Cheryl's house as if nothing had ever changed.

She loved Jesus with all of her heart. She was a true disciple as well as a discipler. While she was extremely fun and let us get away with a lot, she was very solid about one thing- God. She stood true and firm upon values and taught us to love and respect ourselves and always put God first in our lives.

She was a nurse for many, many years and was amazing at it. I remember her taking time on her weekends when she was off duty to check on her patients because she had such a huge heart. They all loved her. I honestly never met anyone who didn't love Ms. Cheryl.

She went on to do medical missions work in various countries and loved every second of it. She could rough it and she had a genuine love, care and compassion for people.

She was really a one-of-a-kind type of person. I looked up to her immensely as did my sisters and all of our friends who knew her. She was so loveable. She could be stern, but only when she knew we were harming ourselves. We knew what she meant because she did it in love.

Regretfully, as I grew older and she moved back to Crawfordville we kind of lost contact with her. Our lives changed completely within the span of a year and we lost contact with a lot of very dear people. I hate this part about life. I hate that this happens, but it does. The crazy thing is, you know how much you loved that person and how much they loved you that even though time and distance put a gap between you, nothing really ever changed. Ms. Cheryl never changed. She was faithful and she was a fervent follower and pursuer of Jesus. She lived her entire life based on that and that alone. God was undoubtedly the center. I always admired that about her. She was not easily swayed. Her feet were firmly planted.

This Article was written just 5 days after she went missing.

:Fast Forward:

December 6- Still no trace of Ms. Cheryl. "How can this be happening?"

The entire month of December 2007 is kind of all a blur. We hardly celebrated Christmas as we were communting back and forth from Pensacola to Crawfordville to praticipate in foot searches, to be with close friends who knew and loved Cheryl as well as Jake, her son who was always like a big brother to us and simply because we just could not celebrate anything or be happy when all of this was occuring. It was completely devastating and so surreal. I cried myself to sleep every night at the horrible thoughts that would invade my mind and I cried out to God to please prove Himself to me and let her be okay. I just couldn't understand why He would let something such as this happen to someone so amazing, who loved Him so much and who lived her life in complete surrender to His will. It didn't make any sense.

I wanted to punch people who would say "God has a plan for all of this". That phrase literally made me want to throw up.

"How could God have a plan for someone to go missing who obviously had been robbed and abducted? How could God have a plan for a Mother of two fairly young sons and a grandmother of two baby girls to just be ripped out of their lives in such a terrible manner?"

I'm sorry but I REFUSE to believe that Cheryl's abduction and death was ever a part of God's plan. I could be wrong but I just refuse to believe that God would ever let something so utterly awful happen to someone like Ms. Cheryl or anyone for that matter.

I'm not going to go into much detail simply because the details are very disturbing and gruesome and I honestly wish I didn't even have to know them. It was by far the worst tragedy I have ever had to witness of someone who was close to me, ever.

Her body was eventually located and unidentifiable. It actually took them a while to confirm it was her.

My heart sank when we received this news. It was apparent that it was going to be her but I still had that glimmer of hope and it was quenched completely.

"No, that can't be her. They did not do that to her! Only a monster could go to those lengths and do something so inhumane. Dear God."

Anger welled up within me at the thought. I wanted that person tortured forever. I hated him. How could anyone to that to our Ms. Cheryl?

I still am admittedly bitter about it to this day. Honestly, It would be so hard to forgive that man for what he did and not only to dear Ms. Cheryl but also a young girl by the name of Meredith Emerson as well as many other victims he preyed upon. He is evil, inhuman, despicable and completely vile.

I know my words are harsh but you really have no idea...

December 26, 2007 marks one year from the day of her funeral. Yes, her funeral was the day after Christmas. Her family's holidays will forever carry a tragic memory and will forever change the way they view it because someone evil took their mother and grandmother's life before her time. Now, there is a void and a constant reminder. It sickens me.

I hate it. I hate the truth. I hate knowing the gruesome details and I hate remembering it.

I'm trying right now to focus on remembering her life and the lovely person that she was. I will never ever forget the impact and difference she made in my life and everyone she ever came in contact with.

Should you wish to read more about her...

http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/12873987.html - My dad is quoted and mentioned in this article as he was a keynote speaker at her funeral (Keith Collins). As well as the article below.


This time of year does hold chilling memories and feelings for me. I can't help but think about it from time to time and I guess with it being the one year anniversary I felt some closure to write about it, though it was extremely difficult for me to do so. I will never ever understand why it happened, ever. It will never make an ounce of sense to me.

RIP Ms. Cheryl. You will forever be remembered and cherished in our hearts. You gave me a perspective about so many things and I will always strive to live a life consecrated unto the Lord because of the example you set before me. I am forever grateful for the time I was able to know you and glean from you. I am so glad that God placed you in our lives.

One thing resonates in my mind when I recollect all that happened...

"God can take what the enemy has used to cause evil and turn it around for good. " (Gen.50:20)

Yes, God can turn the very devices of the enemy into weapons of victory.

As I think back to that dismal month I can honestly say that as SO many people remembered and talked about Cheryl, it all centered around her lifestyle; pure, honest, compassionate, modest, loving, generous, selfless, loyal and faithful. I believe that many people were touched by her persona and devotion and I pray that the fruit of the many seeds she planted come to fruition.

The Bucket List.

Stole this from Candi's blog. I found it to be interesting!

The Bucket List

Hit forward and place an (x) by all the things you've done and remove the (x) from the ones you have not. Then send it to your friends (including me). This is for your entire life!

(x) Been to Europe
( ) Been on a cruise
( ) Gone on a blind date
(x) Skipped school
(x) Watched someone die
( ) Been to Canada
(x) Been to Mexico
(x) Been to Florida
(x) Been on a plane
(x) Been lost
( ) Been on the opposite side of the country
(x) Gone to Washington , DC
( ) Been to Vegas
( ) Climbed a lighthouse
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Rolled in the snow
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x ) Seen the Cherry Blossoms in Washington , D.C.
(x) Played cops and robbers
( ) Been present in a confrontation where guns were pulled
() Been in a knock down drag out fight
() Flown a plane
( ) Owned a boat
( ) Watched grandchildren grow
(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Been to the Kentucky Derby
( ) Been to Key West
( ) Been to a rodeo
(x) Sang Karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
(x) Made prank phone calls
(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x) Danced in the rain
(x ) Written a letter to Santa Claus
() Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x) Had a near death experience
() Watched the sunrise with someone
( ) Seen the green flash at sunset
(X) Blown bubbles
(x) Gone ice-skating
(x) Owned a convertible
( ) Been in an outside hot tub when it was snowing
1. Any nickname? Bamber, Amby, Bam, Ber, Ladybug, Ambercita etc
2. Mother's name ? Darla Collins
3. Body Piercing ? Jut the ears.
4. How much do you love your job? I love it, really.
5. Birthplace? Tallahassee, FL
6. Been to Hawaii ? Not yet but want to someday
7. Ever been to Africa ? No but I would love to go there also
8. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Hmm, yes I have =/
9. Ever been on TV? Yes
10. Ever steal any traffic sign? No, I have never done that
11. Ever been in a car accident? Not while I was driving
12. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle ? 4-door
13. Favorite number? I don't have one
14. Favorite movie ? I ahve way too many but I LOVE The Holiday, so cute!
15. Favorite holiday ? Christmas
16. Favorite dessert? Cheesecake
18. Favorite food? Mediterranean food (yummmm), Italian and Sushi
19. Favorite day of the week ? Friday
20. Favorite brand of body wash ? Bath and Body works, warm vanilla sugar
21. Favorite smell? Envy me, by gucci, Men's Dolce and Gabana cologne, the smell of freshly cut grass in spring and summer and mom's homemade pumpkin bread baking
22. How do you relax? Read
23. How do you see yourself in 10 years? I don't know. Maybe married with a kid or two. We'll see.
TAG! You're IT!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Lately I feel dry, withered, wearisome, reserved and all of those other words that are synonymous.

I've gone through "dry spells" before but I believe this has been a record long state in which I have lingered. I'm not satisfied in Him anymore, nor do I feel a sense of purpose or direction. It's almost as if a haze has settled, completely blurring everything which is in front of me and I'm blindly gliding.

No aspiration or motivation.

Obviously, this is not something that I haven't experience before, nor is it something uncommon to go through. However, it gets old and it hinders. It hinders my relationship with God, family, friends and it makes me complacent. That word that I loathe so much, yet have sucuumbed to without much hesitancy.

Self satisfied. Not something I am proud of. Not something I wish to be.

I'm aware that my not being involved in a church or "body of believers" has most likely contributed to this feeling ultimately leading to me being disconnected. I feel completely disconnected, yet I am "okay" with it. I am not okay with being okay about that.

I recently wrote a post about change. My feelings toward it, my opposition and dislike toward it, yet somehow I think that some change could be just what I need. I say this with much reluctance.

I have no idea what that entails. I have not the slightest clue as to where I should begin. I just feel really far and I don't like it.

I don't know if God stopped speaking or if I just stopped listening.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Party and an Unexpected Gift

We had our annual Christmas Party last night. It was quite a scene to behold. There had to have been more than 70 people squished into our not-so-huge home. It was a lot of fun and we had been preparing for days! The house looked amazing! Mom had it all decked out in lights, beautifully lit candles and decorations galore. We also made basically every type of party h'dourves, cookie, christmas candy, and truffle you could possibly imagine. The selection was beyond belief and was very pretty and decorative as well. It was a success!

We ALL (as in all 50-70 of us) went caroling through our neighborhood last night (something we are attempting to make tradition as this was our second year to do so). Our neighbors thoroughly enjoy it, well the majority of them at least. We were rejected by a few, sadly. Where is the Christmas spirit people?!

Sidenote: If you line your home in lights and have a light up frosty and reindeer in your front yard then you are simply ushering carolers to your door, so it isn't very nice to slam the door in our sweet faces because you, my friend gave a false impression. Thank you and Merry Christmas anyway.

The majority of attendees I didn't really know all too well and it was kind of funny to feel like a stranger in my own house but really cool to meet new people!

We also played the infamous white elephant/dirty santa game. You know, the one where you steal presents from people. It got a bit hasty at one point. I simply observed the hysteria of people actually fighting over sparklers and lotto tickets. Too funny.

Much, much later in the night a few of us adjourned to the couches all comfy and snuggly and watched Enchanted. It's obviously not a Christmas movie but it was amazing. I laughed so hard. If you haven't seen it, you must! I got a kick out of it. Really. Then again, it may have been because it was 12:00 am and I was watching it with extremely hilarious people, so I'm sure that contributed much to my enjoyment.

All in all, it was a lovely night, spent with lovely people.

I am beyond exhaustion today, though. I think it was 2:45 am when I actually fell asleep only to be woken up by the sound of my screaming alarm clock just 3 short hours later. I'm halfway through the day and I haven't collapsed...yet. I don't do well when I havn't had at least 6 hours of sleep. I'm awake but my brain is not functioning properly.

On another note, today a little unexpected surprise arrived for me at the office. A policyholder came in to thank me for my assistance on a claim that she had made. She stated that she was so pleased with our service and willingness to drop all that we were doing to assist her. She gave both Amy and I a card. Upon opening it up, two 5 dollar bills fell out. (We're actually not supposed to take money from customers, ever. However, she had already left when I opened ot and we can't very well send it back. So, I suppose it can slide this once.) She wrote the sweetest note within a Christmas card and one line read...

"I wanted to thank you for being so kind and helpful last Friday. Some people would say it was your job, you dropped everything you were doing to help me. I say it was the sweet spirit within you."

That, my friends is why I love my job. I know I may complain about someone cussing me out over the phone or in person because they got a rate increase (obviously out of my control), their billing got screwed up somehow or their insurance was cancelled because they failed to pay their premium, have had too many accidents and/or tickets or whatever other reason you can imagine. However, for every ten of those mean people there is one like this dear lady who totally and completely made my year and made it all worth it. It's amazing to feel appreciated.

To those of you who didn't catch my previous post, you just might have been tagged in it! :) If not, then feel free to do it anyway!

Much love!

I'm it!

Candi tagged me! I haven't been tagged in a while and I always feel special when someone tags me. =)

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about you.

3. Tag 7 random people at the end, and include links to their blog

So, I'm supposed to list 7 random facts about myself. This shouldn't be too difficult...

1. I am ocd about the interior condition and odor of my car. I change my air freshener every week and I vacuum it frequently. I love it when people get in my car and say "wow, your car is so clean and it smells good!". I guess it might be because it's the first "nice" vehicle I've ever owned and the first car that I have purchased myself so I take pride in it and want it to be immaculate!

2. When my sister and I were little, my mom had our hair cut short and I hated it. Every time we went to the salon, I would cry the entire way there and the entire way home. I absolutely hated getting my hair cut, especially short. So when ash and I would play "house" in our playroom downstairs we would take our stretchy black pants and pull them over our heads and pretend that we had gorgeous, flowing raven locks of hair. One day we were completely consumed with our game and in walked a guy who had been staying with us. He, of course laughed, poked fun and called us "nuns". I was absolutely horrified and embarrassed. (I got embarrassed really easily, still do) and alas that was the last time I ever wore a pair of black stretchy pants on my head. Haha

3. For those of you who are not aware of this already, I was bit by a copperhead snake at the age of 2 1/2 and nearly died. (I believe this is a repeat, sorry). I've also had many other random and freak encounters with odd animals, such as opossums. All crazy stories.

4. I can quote Anne of Green Gables and Little Women backwards and forwards. You don't ever want to watch those movies with me because I will annoy you to no end.

5. Never would I publicly demean anyone, ever. I absolutely hate it when people do that to me and I hate watching it happen to others. However, if you demean or belittle me publicly I hold a secret grudge and it's very difficult for me to get over it although I usually do eventually. Public demeaning is a huge "no no". I also tend to take things too personally, which is something I've had to overcome in the last year due to my work environment. I'm still working on that though. It can be a monster at times and I feel inferior way too often when it creeps up on me.

6. I'm easily pleased. It really doesn't take much to make me happy. It's the little things that make my life so great, such as coffee and conversations with my mom, e-mailing my dad during the day, going home after work to a home cooked meal, family and good friends and reading. I love stuff like that. Some of my greatest memories are home lived.

7. My family is overly dramatic and high strung. I think I lean more toward being like my dad as far as "laid back" goes, although I do have the tendancy to be dramatic when necessary. For the most part, I'm very "go with the flow". I'm very conservative in thought, opinions, beliefs, dress and style. A lot of my friends and sister's friends like to call this "old fashioned and boring". However, I am completely content with it. I'm open minded as well, but not too much. I think that being too open minded can be just as harmful, if not more than being closed minded.

There you have it my friends. I have sucessfully completed my task of being tagged and enjoyed it as well!

So, it is now my turn to nominate 7 of you to execute this task and continue the tagging force!

I choose LuLu, Andrea, Mrs.Leah.Maria, Lindsey, Sarah, Karen and Shanny

Hope you're all having a splendid day! =)

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm not a chameleon, yet I have to be.

Change is happening all around me. For one who is not fond of change, it sure is frequent.

I never do good during change. I find myself grasping every tiny bit of familiarity that I can cling to. In my mind I refuse to accept reality and pretend that it will all be the same, always. No matter how much I liked or disliked certain aspects of something, I was comfortable with that stability, even when unstable. Does that even make sense?

It's like clockwork. Every year something drastically changes in our lives. Every.single.year. Not the type of change that you adjust to quite comfortably and quickly. Really big changes. Whether it be exciting or completely devastating. I'm aware that life is always, always changing and it's all about moving on, adapting, searching and striving to do more and be more but is it wrong to want to just stay right where you are?

Maybe I get too comfortable. That could be my problem. I get much too comfortable with things I don't even necessarily like sometimes. I like routine. I get stuck in a rut and I'm okay with it. Not good, my friends.

So, I am completely unaware of what might possibly unfold over the next few months but things could definitely be changing drastically (as if they weren't already). I've known for some time the probablity of my Dad inheriting an agency in Knoxville, TN and while I know it would be an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity that he has worked so hard for, I can't help but shove it far into the back of my mind and dismiss it as a silly "perhaps".

"As if we'd actually leave Pensacola."

We've attempted to leave numerous times, putting our house on the market, making plans, home shopping to actually moving to another state for a mere 6 months to realize that we were definitely NOT supposed to be there. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. However, we had purchased a home there, attempted to settle there and all the while our home of 8 years sat empty and unsold of which we only dreamt of moving back into. The day we moved back into our home in Pensacola was one of the happiest days of my life. You have no idea. As crazy as it seems, the home we had moved into for those 6 months of being out of Pensacola was a dreamhouse, ginormous, gorgeous, it was like something out of a magazine. It was an amazing house. It had everything my mom ever wanted in a kitchen, an elevator, endless amounts of space and storage- it was simply divine. However, it was not home. Our hearts were not there. We were so very unhappy. The house could not make us happy nor could it give us what we wanted. I feel like I spent that year of my life packing and unpacking as we had done it 4 times over the course fo 6 months. However, when we heard the news that we were moving back home-back into our house, I couldn't wait to get packing! My heart was in Pensacola and I couldn't wait for us to be reunited!

Now, if you saw where I lived you might laugh at me. It's not a huge town. It's not all that glamorous. It's just a regular sized town down along the gulf coast. I will admit that we do have the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. No doubt. Sugar white sand and blue/green water make up our beaches. I've spent many sweet summers along these beaches. I know where all the hot spots are, good little hole in the wall restaurants are and how to get practically anywhere and everywhere. I could find my way around this town with my eyes closed. I love it here, really and truly. And though we've gone through an innumerable amount of changes, disappointments and heartaches here, it is still my home.

I'm desperately trying to imagine moving on and starting fresh and new but each and every time I do, that hard lump appears in my throat and tears begin to surface reminding me that it will be extremely difficult. I want to be excited, I really do.

I, of course have the option of staying here but honestly the only thing I would be staying for would be my job, which I really do love. But again, I think it may be a comfort thing. I can't imagine my family leaving me. I know I'm a big girl and all but I'm close with them and as annoying as they can be at times, I just can't imagine it.

It would be one thing if I were the one moving away from home because I would always have the comfort of coming back home, you know?

I'm rambling, I know.

I just needed to vent a little. I'm a professional at bottling up and being introverted and sometimes writing is the perfect outlet for such.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Red Door (RIP)

Oh loves.

An emotional week it has been. The beloved Red Door Venue closed. Our last show was last night and I didn't think I'd be as upset as I was.

It's pretty crazy how much things can change over the course of a year, how many people come in and out of your life and how much you learn.

My mom is one of the most amazing people I know. I could never do all that she has done. She has always poured out her life for others. She has always worked her tail off and has never gotten a penny for it, any of it. She truly is a mom to so many but I am so glad that she is my real mom. I'm so unbelievably blessed. She has spent COUNTLESS hours cleaning, taking out trash, cooking, sweeping up cigarettes, attempting to break up fights, loving on kids, praying with kids, crying with kids, counting money, paying for kids who didn't have money to go to shows, listening and putting up with that awful hardcore music and having people sleep all over our house just because she couldn't bear the thought of bands sleeping in their vans. She really does have the biggest and best heart I know and I really hope I am like her. She's incredible. Running a venue is a very difficult task, you have no idea!

I love you mom.

It's a sad time for all of us. It's always sad to see something that you love come to an end. I can't wait to see what door God opens up next!

I hope you're all having a Merry Christmas. Sorry I have slacked majorly in the blogging arena. There has just been so much going on lately that I really have not had the time to write!

Much love.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thought I'd share this...

It's so sad how Christmas has become so commercialized. It's completely ridiculous how so many people get "offended" by the word "Christmas" or anything to do with Jesus when that is the very reason we even celebrate this holiday.

*Twas the month before Christmas*
*When all through our land,*
*Not a Christian was praying*
*Nor taking a stand.*
*See the PC Police had taken away,*
*The reason for Christmas - no one could say.*
*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*
*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*
*It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say*
*December 25th is just a " Holiday ".*

*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*
*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*
*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*
*Something was changing, something quite odd! *
*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*
*In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda.*
*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*
*At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.*
*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears*
*You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.*

*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty*
*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*
*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*
*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !*
*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*
*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*
*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*
*Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*

*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*
*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*
*So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree"*
*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.*
*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*
Not Happy Holiday !*

I know it's kind of cheesy but it's so true. This morning I was watching the news and they were covering a story about an elementary school in North Carolina. A parent was "offended" by a Rudolph song and pageant because of the word "Christmas". Thus the school completely rearranged the entire pagaent because of the complaint as to not offend anyone. Are you kidding me? It's absolutely mind boggling to me.

It's crazy, absolutely crazy.

Well, I hope you're all having a MERRY CHRISTMAS so far!

Friday, December 5, 2008

She's gone country... ??

I've recently discovered a new found love for another country singer/artist. Bear in my mind that I am not a huge country music fan. However, I do like to tune in every once in a while as I feel that so many country songs have so much sentiment to them. I'm a southern girl, yes but my taste in music lies more in acoustic and ecletic genres. I can appreciate almost any type of music though, really.

Now as far as country goes, I'm extremely picky. A few of my favorites are Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, and Rascal Flatts. As you can tell, the majority of my selection have more of a pop feel to their music. I'm not a huge fan of the "twang" in country music as well as the songs about "drinkin' beer with the dudes, takin my dog out fishin' by the crick' or cheatin' on my woman". Um, no thank you. They annoy me to no end. However, I do love the country songs that tell a sweet story of love and/or loss. I love the songs that give personal depth to the person who wrote them. I love the songs that make me cry or feel all warm inside. I love those type of country songs. They just make me feel good.

So, the other night I downloaded both of Taylor Swift's cd's from itunes. I had heard two of her songs before and thought that they were cute but I had no idea that I would fall in love with most all of her music. Well, I did. And that is all I have been listening to for the last 3 days.

I'm such a girl and her girly, sweet songs just make me feel like I'm 15 again. I love it. I love her sweet voice and she really is an amazing songwriter. I also like the fact that she plays an instrument, writes most all of her songs as well as sings. I have an admiration and deep respect for multi-talented artists and songwriters. She's also gorgeous.

There is this one song called "The Best Day" on her newest album "Fearless" and it's all about her parents. She talks about her life with them and basically thanks them for giving her the best days. I cried when I heard it. It's just so sweet.

Okay, I need to stop obsessing over Taylor Swift now. But her hair is incredible. The end.

P.S. Her Christmas music is great as well! (Thanks Karen!) ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meet the newest addition to the Collins Household...

What a cutie, right? (The kitten, not me..haha)

This lil guy was found very troubled and stuck in a ditch. My sisters friend "rescued" him in hopes of keeping him until she approached her mom and was sorely disappointed by her response. So, Ali brought him to our house in a kennel and left him on our front porch as directed by my mom. (My mom knew that if she were forced to confront the kitten that it would be very difficult not to keep him). Therefore his kennel was left outside. I, of course was not aware and heard yelps and cries from outside my window and could not resist picking him up and bringing him in from the cold! So, I brought him in. Of course we all fell in love with his sweet disposition and playful little cute self. My dad was adamant that we would take him to an animal shelter the very next day. Dad eventually went to the store and bought a collar, kitten chow and toys :) So, needless to say, we're keeping the lil tike.

We've named him Pippin. Well okay, my dad named him Pippin. (Although I did throw out the suggestion).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


A blogging slump?!

It's nearly been a week since I last posted. How dreadful. I am having major withdrawls!

So, I hope you all had a tremendous Thanksgiving which I see that you certainly did by reading all of your blogs! :)

I did as well. It was wonderful. The food was phenominal, the family was loud and obnoxious, the nap was luxurious, dessert was divine and the shopping on Black Friday was quite successful! Mom, Dad, Mema and I were the only ones who managed to go ALL day long and it was so much fun! I loved spending time with them and laughing at my crazy Dad who is absolutely hilarious and makes me laugh at everything! I purchased a few gifts for family but I have SO much more shopping to do, it's insane!

I cannot believe that Christmas is in 23 days! It's amazing how as a kid 23 days seems like an eternity but as you get older it just zooms by! I do not want these 23 days to zoom by. I want to savor the season and soak it all in. I want to go ice skating at the Wharf, go Christmas Caroling at our annual Christmas Party, go see the gorgeous lights at Bellingrath Gardens, and so much more! I just hope that this month doesn't pass by too quickly!

It was SO nice to have 4 days off of work. Too nice. It went by super fast though. Always does, huh?

Well I have a lot more to write and pictures to post of a sweet new addition to our family but I will have to post them later!

Hope you're all doing well!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Thanksgiving.

It's so close that I can almost smell it. The gloriousness of it all- Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, breads, sweet potato casserole, honey baked ham, pumpkin pie, apple pie etc. Absolutely fantastic! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Currently working until 5:00 pm. I so have a case of "short week Holiday syndrome" as in, I don't have an ounce of motivation to work. Isn't that terrible? My mind is currently racing with "to do" lists, things I MUST pack before I leave tonight for Tallahassee and excitement for the holidays!

This week has been a very tiring one and I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a day free of worries, a time to be thankful for family, friends, life in general and all that I am blessed with. I think this year, I have even more to be thankful for. I am thankful for my family, thankful that we are alive and thankful that yet another year has come and gone of which I can look back and say, "Wow, I learned a lot from all of that!".

I'm currently trying with all of my might to seek out the lessons through the trials I am facing, though big or small. I see it as an opportunity to learn. Learning what "not" to do. Learning how to handle difficult situations, learning how to control my emotions and learning how to show more love. I've learned a lot this year and I am thankful for each lesson, even the ones that brought pain and enforced tears.

God is a good God. He desires to give us life and life more abundantly. He desires to lavish us with His love and shed light on our current situations. He longs to be near to us and to hear our heartcries. He craves our attention and even our imperfect love. His love is like no other. His love never fails, never forsakes, never cheats, never lies, and it always brings comfort to my heart. His love never changes, never grows weary, never gives up and it will never betray you. His love is everlasting, eternal, pure, perfect, complete, unconditional, redeeming, reviving, patient, precious, renewing, uncontainable, indescribable, gentle, firm, vast, deep, wide, rich, measureless, strong, comforting and honest. The love of God is greater than any tongue or pen can ever tell. There are no words to describe, no adjectives to fathom it, no minds who can even remotely comprehend it. His love is the ONLY perfect love. Demonstrated for us, for you, for me.

God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God's love is unconditional, and it's not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn't love us because we're lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.

I feel like I just had a revelation of that love in a way that I never have before.

So with that said, I hope that you have a tremendous Holiday tomorrow and that you get to experience true thankfulness and true appreciation for each and every solitary blessing in your lives.

Eat, drink and be merry! ;)

Happy Day before Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Careful Hands

I'm completely exhausted, yet restless.

Thank you all so very much for your sweet comments of concern and love. I so appreciate every single one of you and your comforting words. I really do. They mean more to me than you know. I never thought that by starting this blog I would encounter such lovely souls who have really helped make a difference in my life. I love reading about your lives and I have learned a great deal from many of you. I covet your prayers and I do not doubt for one second that you are sincere.

We're all stumbling through life. It's a journey and though miles and miles apart, and though we all lead completely different lives, so many of us are dealing with similar situations. This blog is such a great outlet for me. I know it seems corny and I guess the only people who could even remotely understand would be you guys, my faithful readers and fellow bloggers who have been a wonderful support system.

Writing has always been a way for me to really express myself as well as an escape. I do not write what I do for attention or for pity. Not at all. I write to clear my mind and verbalize all that I have internalized. It's very therapeutic. Am I right?

Things are rough right now. Life is cruel. Disappointment and pain ensue. My heart breaks. I'm burdened and weary and I can't seem to find God in all of this chaos though I know He is near to the brokenhearted. I know that there must be some sort of plan through all of this, there must be. Pray that I would remain pure-hearted. I am terrified of bitterness invading and destroying me, petrified. I hope and pray that my heart would remain open and pure through all of this. It's very difficult.

I'm human.

I put a song on here called "Careful Hands" by Sleeping at Last. The lyrics have resonated within my spirit the past two days.

"Put your coat on, this city trembles.

Keep your chin up, as you untangle God
From cold blood and bruises.

We are X-rays of something broken.
Cursive bloodlines write every forecast:
An orchestration Of dissonance and innocent surrender.

When our color dies,
We will bury the ashes of time,
And we will earn new eyes.

Wrists get tired rewriting futures.
Our bodies beg us to be creatures of habit.
We are creatures of habit."

To me, this song says it all right now. I can't figure God out. I never will be able to. Yet, I trust Him and I am attempting to keep my chin up through all of this. I am learning to see God in the mess, hurt and pain. (Untangling God from cold blood and bruises).

I am broken and shattered and I beg and try to reason with God argumentatively only to come to the realization that all I need to do is surrender. Trials and tests are instruments used to shape and form me.
(Cursive bloodlines write every forecast: An orchestration Of dissonance and innocent surrender.)

I know that one day, in time I will realize the reasoning behind the pain and the purpose for the suffering. (When our color dies, We will bury the ashes of time, And we will earn new eyes.)

I can't foresee the future. I am human and I am susceptible to the frailties of human nature. I crave stability and I crave comfort. I am a creature of habit.
(Wrists get tired rewriting futures. Our bodies beg us to be creatures of habit. We are creatures of habit.")

Basically the song is amazing and I just get it. Who knows the depth that truly lies behind these lyrics but they speak to me.

Go listen.

Thank you all again. So very much.

I just want to give you all huge hugs.

Much love,

I'm losing.

I'm not sure what's worse.

The fact that my sister attempted suicide yet AGAIN or the fact that we are losing. I care and I'm gravely concerned but I am so tired.

I feel numb.


I can't bear to watch my parents go through anything else. I am not going to let her ruin our Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Selfishness is the core. I know she is hurting deeply but the things she puts us through are so emotionally, physically and mentally straining. I feel for her, I really do. This just isn't fair to us though, it just isn't.

People go through much more difficult things in life than just a break-up. People lose children and loved ones, people lose everything and they continue and go on with life.

12:00 am. In a druken stupor, high and completely out of her mind prostrate on the floor of a friend's house. Her wrists slashed and broken from where she purposefully wounds herself. Dad and I pick her up off of the floor and drag her home only to be cursed and yelled at.

I'm not strong anymore but I have to be.

I have to be for my mom but I'm losing.

I don't know my sister. I have no idea who she is anymore.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My heart feels as though it's been shattered into a thousand pieces.

My family is falling apart and I can't bear to stand back and watch it crumble.

I am on the verge of a meltdown. I have tried hard and fought long and attempted to pretend that it didn't exsist. I've only fooled myself and everyone else into thinking that I have it all together.

It's a lie.

I'm a mess. We're a mess.

Pray for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mixed emotions

Christmas lights are going up around here as people all across Pensacola have already begun to "Deck the Halls". Driving home after work makes me smile as I pass the many homes in our neighborhood who have gotten a jump start on their christmas decor this year. Frosty, Santa, reindeer statues and lights adorn yards and front porches simply inciting a smile across your face as you drive by. Yes, this time of year has rolled around yet again. I love it. Let's not push Thanksgiving aside though! I do so much love Thanksgiving and it seems to always get a little neglected as Christmas follows close behind and ultimately triumphs. They're both amazing holidays and my absolute favorites but Thanksgiving comes FIRST ;)

Not really much to report here.

I'm in denial about my dog. I came home last night after work and she was sitting in the window barking as she does every night that I come home. Her ears perked, tail wagging and with happy little eyes she greets me. I immediately knelt to pet her and tears instantly filled my eyes. The thought of coming home to no bark (as annoying as it is sometimes) and no immediate welcome makes my heart hurt. I still love that little dog. Thankfully, we have a cat who has really captured our hearts but dogs are just different. I do love my cat very much though and I am so thankful that we have him. It will be weird for him as well. They play together a lot. I've already told my mom that I do not want to be at the house when the family comes to get her. I can say my goodbyes before but I just can't bear to watch another family come and happily take "my" dog. It would be way too upsetting for me. So, I'll leave before they come and probably won't even want to come back home after that. My eyes are watery just thinking about it. I don't like this one bit.

This has been a really crappy week. I don't really see it getting much better either.

Hopefully Thanksgiving will help get everything off of my mind. It's like one minute I'll be completely happy and then, boom I'll get a sudden urge to cry. Or one minute I'll be quiet and softspoken and then something minor will set me off. I am not bi-polar- I'm just having an emotional week and all areas of my life seem to be a little crazy and unsettled right now. At least it's Friday...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Looking forward to Thanksgiving and saying goodbye to a beloved pet.

Thanksgiving is exactly one week from tomorrow and I am so excited!! Thanksgiving is definitely one of my most favorite holidays and such a perfect introduction to the Christmas season! I love the smells that eminate from the kitchen as I wake up in the morning, the laughing, bangs of pots and pans, music, and cooking together. It's all just so wonderful. Our annual menu always includes turkey, ham, cream cheese mashed potatoes(mmmm), broccoli casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet rolls, cheese potato caserole, sweet potato casserole, spinach dip, vegetable dip, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, apple pie, and so much more that I can't think of! It's always a delicious feast!

This year we had planned to go to Tennessee to be with my mom's side of the family of which I was looking forward to. However, sudden changes were made and unfortunately we will not be going. I'm pretty sad but will not let it ruin one of my favorite holidays. We will now be going to Tallahassee to spend it with my Dad's side of the family. I'm sure we will have a great time as we will be spending it with my grandparents, 4 aunts and uncles and and 8 little cousins. It will be noisy for sure! Last I heard, my Papa was going to get a hayride to come to the house and pick us up after dinner. =) I'm also very much looking forward to being off work for two days! Whoo hoo!!

Sad news. My parents have come to the conclusion that we are getting rid of our dog whom we've had for nine years, Molly. She has been very sick lately and nothing we do ever seems to help her. We've taken her to numerous Vets who have prescribed her numerous medications. We bathe her constantly, follow all the directions to different treatments and yet her skin still stays very oily, red, itchy, and it causes a terrible smell. I feel so bad for her because she is constantly in pain from it, you can see it in her eyes. I hate it for her. However her condition is worsening and they think it may be something she's allegic to in Florida. We moved to Louisiana for a little while a couple of years ago and she cleared up. I don't know how true that is but whatever. Anyway, a family from Georgia who used to live here and who would occasionally watch Molly when we went out of town have offered to adopt her despite her medical conditions. I know she's sick and maybe she can get help that way but I am selfish and I want to keep her, even if she is sick. We have had her since she was a baby and I love her dearly. Losing a pet is so unbelievably hard. Last night I let her curl up at my feet on the couch and I just cried and cried at the thought of her not being in our house anymore. So very upsetting. I can't take it.

Well now I am a total mess and need to stop before the tears start to flow since I am at work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh dear...

My reasoning for the lack of posting is attributed to being SWAMPED at work. Quite literally. I barely even had time to go to lunch today. I finally was able to go get lunch around 3:10 today. So, as you can tell I have been M.I.A but it's not because I want to be! It seems as though I have been taking the most difficult route possible when it comes to certain things, though not purposely. I suppose my thought process is, "If it doesn't stress me out to the max, give me a stomach ache and cause me to miss my lunch hour than I must not be working hard". Sheeesh! The insurance business can be brutal.

I miss reading your posts, my friends! I'm still here!!

I really do want to write more but my eyes hurt and so does my head and I don't think I can look at a computer screen for another second!

(So much for "deep post" promise.)

Much love to you all!!


Friday, November 14, 2008

I can't think of a title...

Well, I haven't had much time to update this week due to the fact that I have been insanely busy at work. I'm learning a lot more and thus my daily workload is widening. We have a new lady who was hired on as of last week and so far, I love her! She is really sweet, extremely helpful (she has worked for State Farm for 10 years) and fun too. I'm really happy with the adjustment and I think she is going to be a great asset to the office! Good things all around as far as the job front goes. I'm really trying to build up the needed confidence to go hand in hand with my motivation in order to go above and beyond my expectations as an employee. I'm not the greatest sales person to walk the planet, in fact I'm really not too good at all. I'm very easy going and I personally don't like it when people nag me, so when people tell me "no", I say "okay!". Ummm, that needs to change, especially if I want to be a great employee. I would say that my customer service skills FAR outweigh my sales skills. I suppose everyone has their nitch somewhere and mine does not happen to be in sales, unfortunately. I'm open to new ideas and so willing to learn though!

It's Friday, can you see me smiling? :)

Tonight the Gills are playing at Pensacola Beach and I am really looking forward to it. Their music is like a happy drug or something. Look them up on myspace and I'm sure that you won't be disappointed. They're good friends as well. I'm happy and thankful for good friends. I am blessed. I've been hanging out with new people lately and I'm really enjoying getting to know some really sweet girls.

Happy all around. Good times ahead.

I've kept my word as far as my spin class goes! Aren't you proud? I haven't missed a week yet!! Can you say PROGRESS? I am quite happy with it and it is SUCH a stress reliever. Not to mention my best friend has been accompanying lately and we've been kicking some major butt! Love it! Love the adrenaline, the speed and even the pain, oddly.

I was at our mall last night and they have already started decorating for Christmas. I got SO excited that I waltzed down to Starbucks, purchased a peppermint mocha and walked around soaking in all of the sights as well as the plethora of holiday scents eminating from the Yankee Candle store! Such a great feeling! I then walked outide into the reality of the 70 degree weather and it totally ruined my euphoria. Oh Florida, why must you insist on being so bipolar when it comes to the weather?

Wow, this is a pretty boring post. The next one will have more depth, I promise :)

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It is well with my soul...

"When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrow like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul"

My all time favorite hymn was sung last night in the midst of many young people during a "hardcore" show. I'm not a hardcore music fan, AT ALL. I actually hate it to be honest with you. I knew that the band was Christian but I was NOT expecting them to bust out in this old hymn after their rendition of roaring screams and barking guitars. They were solemn and peaceful as they sang this song and it brought much comfort to my heart.

Everytime I hear this hymn, I cry. I just can't help it. It ushers an unreal peace into my spirit and it's almost as if I can feel my soul being held.

The concept of this old tune is amazing if you really think about it and comprehend the lyrics. Though current situations and circumstances attempt to rob me of my peace, contentment, and joy there is something much deeper than what I'm scratching the surface of and there is a place where I can find refuge and safety, where my mind and heart can be at ease.

The story behind this song is very inspiring and influential. Horatio Spafford wrote these words having undergone several traumatic events in his life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the Great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873 he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville e Havre but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another ship, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died. These words rang deep within his spirit and inspired one of today's most popular hymns.

The loss that this man suffered cannot even remotely compare to my current situations and yet, he penned these words as if contending with God that He was sufficient enough. That though he was aching as though he had never ached before, it was well with his soul.

I don't know what you're going through but I do know that we all face difficult situations and unfortunate circumstances along this journey and it can be overwhelming to say the least. I know for me, I tend to always shove things so far down inside as if pretending it's all okay, when in fact, it isn't. God is revealing to me the act of truly "laying it all down", whether I'm overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety, grief, anger, hurt, bitterness or whatever it may be that I am feeling. His grace is sufficient for me and his power is made perfect when I am so weak and despaired. Though my current situation doesn't bring me peace and contentment, He does. And despite my state of emotion, It is well with my soul.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” -Psalm 46:1-3

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” -John 14:27

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's amazing what a compliment can do...

Oh Monday, you're so bittersweet. Bitter being that you are the reminder that my weekend is in fact, over. And sweet in the aspect that you're the beginning of a fresh new week! Today, though, you have nearly clobbered me with endless amounts of paperwork, challenged me at playing that annoying game of "catch up" of which I do not so much appreciate, and allowed the phone to steadily ring, giving me a not so much needed headache. Nevertheless, you did bear some joyous news today of which I am very grateful.

You see, this last month has been quite hectic seeing that there have only been two staff people in the office (Myself and Brian) and both have had to take on more than their load. Well, upon arriving this morning, my oh so generous boss asked to speak with me for a moment and assured me that it was "good news". He then persisted to thank me for being flexible this last month and applauded Brian and I for our work, service-wise and production-wise. He said he'd like to award me with two half days off in the coming weeks (paid)! He then went on to tell me that he has had countless phone calls to him from policyholders and other State Farm staff members complimenting him on me and my professionalism, poise and kindness! "Me?! Are you serious?!", I thought. I couldn't believe it. He also stated that he has been very pleased with my performance since I have been hired on late January of this year and he is looking forward to helping me achieve higher goals.

(Please do not think for one instance that I am writing this to elevate myself in anyway because I am not. I was absolutely shocked by this conversation and I wanted to share my excitement and I thought, "who better than my bloggy buddies?")

I'm really not the type of person to get all big headed about such a huge and very edifying compliment but it definitely does make me want to continue to be the absolute best employee that I can be and even strive to be better! I'm pretty sure that I am in one of the most positive working environments that I have ever been in and it has indefinitely caused me to thrive and desire to learn and achieve more!

If this post seems braggadocios in the least bit, that is not my intention whatsoever. I promise =)

Friday, November 7, 2008

An unexpected call...

Sitting at my desk, the place I seem to spend more time than any other. The place where I happen to be right this very moment and the place where I sit and write my heart out when the office is dead.

The phone rings...

Of course, that is entirely normal and happens to be a big part of my job. Yes, I answer phones among MANY other daily activities and responsibilities. When the phone rings I instinctively reach out and answer with...

"Casey Roberts' State Farm Office. This is Amber, how can I help you?"

A quivering voice on the other end replied, "Hello?"

I said, "Hello, how can I help you today?"

She then proceeded to give me her name, so I could look up her policy and accurately assist her with whatever she needed.

I then said "Alright Mrs. (very hesitant and softspoken lady), what can I do for you today regarding this policy?

With bated breath and in a shaky voice she responded with, "I need you to take (17 yr old son's name) off of this policy, please?

I agreed to do so, but for rating purposes was forced to ask "why" we must take him off of the policy, and that if he is still in the household he MUST be rated on another vehicle since he is licensed and is a youthful operator.

She proceeded with, "Honey, he's not here anymore, he's not with us anymore."

My heart sank.

I knew exactly what she meant and the tone of her voice said it more clear than the words she was speaking.

At this point my mind was racing with thoughts and I could not find any words to offer her, so I simply said, "I am so so sorry".

She responded with a "Thank you darlin" and continued with "One day he was fine, making straight A's, he had a sweet girlfriend, ran track and was walking the halls of the school and then a week later, he died. He was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and the doctors said it wasn't fatal and two weeks later, he died."

My eyes welled up with tears as I heard the break in her voice and the desperation in her words. She was aching. I felt helpless as I am simply the girl at the insurance office who is going to remove her beloved son from his auto policy at the tender age of 17 because he is now deceased. How tragic.

I offered my condolences and prayers. I sat in tears as I listened to her go on and on about how proud she was of him and how much he had ahead of him. I didn't interrupt, I didn't say I word, I simply listened. She opened her heart and broke to me and all I could do was listen.

My heart literally hurt for her.

Our conversation ended gracefully as we spoke of our faith (She is a devout Christian) but how when tested with such tragic circumstances it's often easy to have none when you need it the most.

She was an absolute sweetheart and I ache when I revert back to that call today. All day it has haunted me and I feel as though I was supposed to answer that call for a reason. I'm still unsure of what it is but perhaps it was for me to simply listen.

I may just be the girl who works at the insurance office but I sincerely felt deep, deep sadness for this mother and I desperately tried to place a face with her name but coming to the realization that we have thousands of policyholders, I was not able to come to a conclusion.

You just never know the breaking hearts you come in contact with daily at work, school, running errands and even when answering the phone.

Defining the silver lining...

Today I find myself in a state of peace. I find my heart feeling contentment as I delve inwardly and re-examine my motives of which can be so increasingly wrong in various aspects.

God is so good, faithful and just. At the moment, it is very easy to panic, worry, feel disappointed and despaired and mope around. I am bigger than that and this gives me all the more reason and desire to pray and to stand up for what I believe in. This gives me the opportunity to talk to people and introduce substance to my beliefs. God is renewing and refreshing my perspective on all of this and I am coming to grips with reality. The world as we know it is not over. I woke up to another day, thankful for each breath that I take and thankful for yet, another beautiful day complete with blue skies and a brightly shining sun.

One scripture keeps coming to mind as I contemplate and recollect recent events that have unraveled and while unfortunate, it is reality.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."Matthew 6:34

I am not writing this to justify what is happening in our country. We have every right to be of grave concern as we watch what is unfolding and I, for one will admit that it is very scary. For the sake of ourselves, our future, our children's future, our values, morals and beliefs, perhaps that this enforces so great a "change" that we will have no choice but to rise up against the corruption and abuse of authority and show that morality and ethics are vital. Perhaps this could be the tide turning? Maybe things really must get much worse before they will begin to get better. Perhaps this "change" can and will strengthen conservatism and bring us back to our roots?

Of course this is simply my personal view. Should Barack Obama's administration improve the state of our economy and lead our country forward with inegrity and sound judgement then that will be phenominal. I just simply do not agree with their process of doing so and find most of it appalling and impossible, to be perfectly honest with you. This is not a time to spew hatred, nor is this a time to simply sulk for the sake of sulking. Yes, we're disenchanted but we are not defeated.

I still do not stand to think that Obama was the best choice for our country but he was the choice and he will be our President for the next 4 years. I do not agree with him but I will pray for him because he is at the wheel of many crucial things that are taking place and he will ultimately steer.

I still do not believe that we really know the real Barack Obama and time will tell whether or not he is efficient to lead us in the right direction.

He does have my prayer support and I will hope for the best with reality in perspective. I'm not overly optimistic in the fact that when my hopes are not met, I am highly disappointed. I am not overly pessimistic because that is negativity and it makes you age faster (fact!). I am a realist who leans toward being moderately optimistic and who relies fully on her faith and trust in a higher power than any governing authority.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control. He is my constant in the chaos, the rock that never fails, the refuge from the storm and my provider in times of need. He is just in all of His ways and He will serve judgement where judgement is due and honor where honor is due. I am no one to make such judgements about people, their motives or their hearts but I can judge by the content of their chracter. The Bible clearly tell us to "judge a tree by the fruit it bears".

I suppose this was my mere attempt of showing support to our future leaders although at the moment, that only support is prayer support.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008.

Get to the polls!!! I have yet to vote but will be heading to the polls at 2:00pm to vote for the very first time ever!! I'm excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful and scared.

This is such a historical election and I am praying like mad that these polls here lately really let us down as I've hoped that they would. The only polls that speak volumes are the polls today and while I am still hopeful for McCain, I am also extremely nervous.

We're having an election party tonight at my house. I am excited, it should be fun to watch the coverage with friends and family.

By the end of the night I guarantee you that I'll be crying, whether or not those tears are of joy or despair, we shall see.

Don't neglect your voice today as I really hope that all of you are registered and are voting! If not-oh my, just don't even tell me because you'll get an earful (or an eyeful from reading what I say).

I openly support John McCain and Sarah Palin and I am a PROUD republican and conservative. I simply cannot support a candidate who is for governmental handouts and discourages hard work and small business innovation. I cannot support a candidate who has relations with domestic and national terrorists and radical anti-american's. I cannot support a candidate who is pro-abortion and has voted against care for infants born alive during the abortion process. I cannot support a candidate who wants to "spread the wealth" to many who already take full advantage of the system. I cannot support a candidate who wishes to take away our second amendment right, the right to bear arms. Criminals don't follow gun control laws as it is, what makes you think that they are just going to give their guns up now? I cannot support a candidate who wants to "change" initially everything yet has NO record of actually being a catalyst for change in the past. What exactly does his "change" entail?

Those who are voting for "change"-should Obama win...you'll get your "change". Change isn't always a good thing, you know.

I fear that people will simply vote for Obama due to the exhaustion and anger toward the current administration. Disenchantment with the state of the economy is bound to affect the voters, no doubt. I just hope that they weigh in both sides and really evaluate their decision. In order for our economy to progress we need LESS governmental control. The government got us into this mess to begin with. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, hello! It all started there and it was a spiral downward. Government is NOT the answer folks, it's the freakin problem. And stop blaming Bush for everything already, it's so annoying.

Just remember this...

America is a great nation. We enjoy freedom that so many would give (or have given) their lives for. We are despised by many in the world because we are so great and because we live a life that is simply a "dream" to others. We are blessed beyond belief.

And now some quotes from a very wise man and one of the greatest Presidents of the United States...

"You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a "greater government activity in the affairs of the people." But they have been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves--and all of the things that I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say "the cold war will end through acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says that the profit motive has become outmoded, it must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state; or our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the president as our moral teacher and our leader, and he said he is hobbled in his task by the restrictions in power imposed on him by this antiquated document. He must be freed so that he can do for us what he knows is best. And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." Well, I for one resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me--the free man and woman of this country--as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"--this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy."

-President Ronald Reagan


His words ring true, still. Perhaps we could change the words up a bit. Referring to the war on terror rather than the cold war and I would have to say that these words very much apply to the position that we find ourselves in today. Bigger government is NOT the answer, by no means. We're on the fast track to becoming socialistic nation should we adopt such ideas. Tragically, so many have no idea the "change" that they are casting their vote for.

The first thing that happens when a country turns into a socialist country is that one party takes complete control of the government. Which could quite possibly happen. The second thing that happens is that party would take control of the media. Which has already begun to and would happen with the fairness doctrine. The third thing that happens is that the controlling party would CHANGE the system to ensure that they maintain control of the government. Probably by changing the election system, redistricting, changing the electoral college, etc. The one thing that protects Democracy from those who would prefer Socialism, is the fact that there are three branches of government. The checks and balances in our branches of government is the only protection that we have from a one party rule. Sadly, our government is no longer what it used to be. Socialism doesn't happen overnight, nor does it happen by sudden force takeover. No, it starts within and it happens slowly, little by little. Compromise seeps in and people get leary and fail to stand up. Little by little.

May God have mercy and I pray that he opens our eyes and that tonight, the right choice is made. Whomever is elected, I know that God is in control and I trust Him but that does not diminutize the fear that I may possess.

Vote for whomever you support and I really hope you know why you support your candidate.

God Bless you all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31

Nothing else screams "fall" to me better than the sickingly sweet, chewy, cavity inducing, good in small quantities, handful of candy corn! I love candy corn and I have ashamedly consumed insanely large amounts the last couple of days. My mom keeps a glass jar full in the kitchen and I grab a handful everytime I walk by, NOT GOOD! (So much for that healthy blog, huh?...P.S. Thank you to all of you for your input and advice, it's all great information that I plan on using...well, hopefully!)

Tonight I'm going to eat ALL the candy I want to, because I CAN! haha In fact, I'm eating chocolate at the office right now. It's really useless to try and be healthy right before the Holidays. With a pumpkin pie, apple pie and candy corn at my house right now, neglecting them would be wrong and torturous for me! Plus, we all know that Thanksgiving and Christmas bring SO MUCH good food! I'm already making my New Years resolution to shed the pounds that the Holidays so generously will give me. I'm staying on the gym though...that will definitely help!

Is tomorrow really November 1st?!? That is insane. I can't believe that we are almost through 2008. This year FLEW by. I started my job in January and it's almost been a year since I began, that is crazy!!

Well, to all you Halloween celebrators out there, Happy Halloween! I still have not found my costume for the masquerade ball tonight and I'm kind of just considering dressing up as nothing. I may just go and buy a white eye mask from Hobby Lobby and decorate it before tonight. That way, I'll at least have the mask part down.

I got home last night at 5:15pm after work and laid down to take a 45 min. nap. Well I slept until 2:45 am!!That 45 min nap turned into like 9 hours!! I then went back to bed at 3:00 am, so I got a nice 12 hours of sleep last night. You think I was tired? Umm, yeah.

Sadly, I went to a blog today that I have been following for some time now to be abruptly notified that I was "out of the club"- not invited to read anymore. I was pretty sad. Hope you're doing okay! (You know who you are.)

Thats all for today, my friends! I hope you all have a fabulous night and a wonderful weekend!!! TGIF =)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Exercise and eating habits...

I attended spin class at the gym again last night. 2 weeks in a row! I'm on a roll, ya'll!! (Yes, I say "ya'll"...I'm a southerner and darn proud of it!) I've made a promise to my body that I would get her back in shape and I made a goal to attend spin at LEAST once a week, if not twice. So far, so good. I always feel like I really work out when I do that class, moreso than when I follow my own routine. Perhaps the lack of breaking and the urge to push through when you see everyone else going 90 mph has something to do with it. I refuse to be left behind so I'm forced to get my butt in gear! It's rather fun as well. Fun music, adrenaline and lots of energy! My leg muscles are severely strained and hurting like nobody's business. I'm most definitely feeling the (good) consequences. If you have not tried it, I highly recommend! You will not be disappointed and you will get a good work out!

I am really trying to actually use my gym membership who so generously deducts that nice amount out of my bank account each month. It's a shame that I have not taken full advantage of the membership that I pay for and I am determined to change that entirely. I need to work out and not just because I'd like to shed a few pounds but also because it just makes me feel better altogether.

I'm definitely no health nut and my eating habits are TERRIBLE. I rarely eat breakfast because the thought of food at 6:00 am literally makes me ill. I go to lunch at 2:00 pm everyday and by that time I am starving, so I eat whatever we have at the house of which is easy and quick and that usually comes down to mac and cheese, leftovers from the previous night, PB&J (I actually LOVE PB&J) or just whatever I can find (and is hardly ever healthy). Come dinnertime, I am not the least bit hungry simply because I have eaten just a couple hours before during my late lunch hour. So, at around 9:00pm-10:00pm I get really hungry again and of course, that is the WORST time to eat! How do I change this?! I have tried, really. But once those later hours roll around, I just want to binge on any food I can find and it is utterly awful simply because most of the time it is junk and I tend to ashamedly consume fairly large portions. Oh the shame. =/

I want to be a healthy eater, I really do. I love various vegetables and fruits but I also love sweets and candy =/ haha. I often skim all of these healthy blogs, vegan blogs, and vegetarian blogs and get all inspired to start eating healthier and then wham, I get a craving for something not so healthy and completely give in. (Would you believe that someone just came in my office with a bucket FULL of halloween candy and chocolate and insisted that I grab tons of it, in which I did. For shame.)

I'm pathetic.

I'm motivated.

I'm hungry.

I want chocolate!

I hate chocolate.

I'm starving.

I'm never eating again.

It's a vicious cycle, my friends.

Does everyone struggle with this or were you all just born healthy?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend findings and savings, getting in the holiday spirit and other randoms...

After much thought and consideration, I splurged. =/ I told myself I needed it because I was running low in the fragrance arena and since I had owned it before and LOVED it, I just knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I have such a difficult time spending $80.00 on perfume!! For a bottle of liquid, $80.00?!? It's just crazy. So, I was on a hunt to find my all time favorite fragrance for a good deal because I am all about a bargain and yes, I will hunt all day until I get my deal! After trying all of the department stores and being sorely disappointed by their prices I remembered that our mall contained a "Perfumania"! I waltzed over there and sure enough, they had it! I asked the price for the big bottle and the medium bottle in which she responded, "$79.99 for the big bottle and $59.99 for the medium sized bottle". Wow, a whole .01 cent cheaper! So, I of course played the "I'm not interested, it was the same price at Dillards" card and attempted to walk off when she abruptly stopped me and offered me the BIG bottle for $59.99! How could I resist or turn that down. She was offering me the big bottle for the same price as the small bottle. I took it and I basically smell amazing now. I'm happy to say that "Envy Me" By Gucci is my signature scent, again! =)

Can I just say that I love Uggs?! I never thought I'd actually say that. I never tried a pair and I found a knock off camel and dark brown pair at Ross for $14.99. Of course, they were NOT the real Uggs. I wanted to see if I really liked them before I went out and spent $150.00 on boots! I still don't know if I can bring myself to spend $150.00 on them actually. As much as I love them and having the "real" brand would be cool, I'm stark happy with my off-brands and they are just as cute! =) It's the little things in life. I'm really not high maintenence and I don't necessarily need name brand apparel although I'm not completely opposed either. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle. I like my name brand perfume but I can stand to wear the off brand Uggs, there you have it!

Now you know that I am pretty frugal but do feel the need to splurge every once in a great while. ;)

Now, to all of you on your "spending freezes", please let me in on your secret because I assure you, this would be VERY difficult for me! I'm not a big spender but I do spend money on a lot of little things and I am most definitely a bargain shopper thus resulting in me spending money on useless material or things simply because it's only $3.00!! RIDICULOUS! I did pretty good this weekend though.

The holidays are QUICKLY approaching and this cold weather is a nice usher in! Last night my parents and I went out for dinner and then went around to some stores and looked at the Christmas displays as we sipped on starbucks. I know, it's a little early for that right now but I was SO in the mood! This is the absolute best time of year in my opinion! I love Thanksgiving and Christmas and looking forward to it all is so exciting. Of course, I was raised in a very loving home where we have silly, yet meaningful traditions, we decorate nearly everything, cook and bake until our hearts are content or our stomachs are full, have numerous parties, shop together and still never stop going until it's Jan 1. We're pretty crazy fanatics and we have so much fun! I love it. I bought a Frank Sinatra christmas cd for $4.00 last night. I love Frank! Who doesn't love Frank??

I've neglected to talk much about Halloween simply because I don't really celebrate it. I don't particularly like what it stands for but have nothing against those who do celebrate it. I love pumpkin carving, dressing up and candy but I just don't like the feeling that the word "Halloween" gives me. Call me crazy. We're having a masquerade ball at The Red Door on October 31 and I have yet to find out what I am going to dress up as. I can't bring myself to spend money on a costume and I really don't have much to work with. I suppose I could serve the punch in black and white attire should that be my last resort.

Well, I suppose I should get back to work now. Did I mention that it was 35 degrees this morning??! For those of you who don't know, I live in Florida! We're not used to it being that cold in October. I love it though, oddly! We're going to have a fire tonight, carve pumpkins and drink coffee! Oh and my mom promised to make me a pumpkin pie! Could it get any better?

Hope you're all having a wonderful week and all you northerners are staying warm as I can imagine how cold it must be up there considering our unlikely conditions down here!!