It’s Buzzworthy – Gwen Makes it Feel Like Christmas!

I’m not a Gwen Stefani fan, or a Blake Shelton fan or a fan of The Voice, but I am a fan of vintage.  When I heard the buzz that her Christmas album had a retro twist I decided to download it to my phone.  OMG!  I am so glad I did.  It’s a throwback to the 1960’s swing with six holiday classics and six original numbers and the perfect fun and festive sound to get excited about Christmas!

Of course my favorite tune is the one she performs with Blake Shelton – You Make it Feel Like Christmas.  Hate to to clean house?  Well, if you play this song on repeat you can get it all done in no time.  Seriously.

The photos to promote her album are vintage inspired too, with a TV set I swear we had, a tinsel tree and the trio of candles.   Be sure to check out her Christmas special tonight  on NBC 9/8 central.  Here’s a description of the show:

“Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas” is a modern take on the traditional Christmas specials that we all grew up with and love. Featuring musical performances and fun holiday sketches, this one-hour primetime special will capture Stefani’s infectious spirit and iconic style. It will take her accessible joie de vivre and the love in her heart and share it with audiences around the country.

Special guest appearances will include Blake Shelton, the five-time winning coach on NBC’s “The Voice” and a multi-award-winning country music superstar. Shelton and Stefani perform the title track from Stefani’s new album, “You Make It Feel Like Christmas,” which the two co-wrote along with Justin Tranter and busbee.
 
So, pop this fun into your stocking or you will have a blue Christmas!

The Best of: How To Make Oatmeal That Tastes Like Barf

This is a “Best of Post” I came across on my blog from September 2013 and it’s pretty funny.  Not all those recipes you see on social media are what they appear.  This is an entry into my Recipe Hall of Lame for worst tasting oatmeal.  Enjoy reading it, not eating it.

Miss Bee made the tennis team so we have been getting up early to have her to morning practice by 6 a.m.  Mr. Bee and I have a routine that he takes her on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so I can sleep in just a bit before having to get up for work and I take her the other days when I’m off.  Thinking I am an awesome wife and mother, and with fall, my favorite time of the year around the corner, I thought I would make them the yummiest of an oatmeal breakfast.

I saw this fab recipe on FB for overnight crockpot cinnamon apple oatmeal.  So far, sounds good.  I dumped in the milk, water, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, pinch of salt, and two sliced apples.  Turned the pot on to low and by 5:30 a.m. they would have a hot, wholesome breakfast.

I got up around the 6:30.  The house smelled of fall.  I ran downstairs, birds swirling ribbons in my hair, and lifted the lid.  Funny.  There sure is a whole lot of oatmeal left in the pot.  Hmmm.  Well, oatmeal does expand.  That’s probably why it looks so full.  I put a ladle full in my bowl, topped it off with almond milk and sat down with my coffee.

Eck. Double Eck.  What the heck?  It was a lifeless bowl of barf.  Actually barf probably tastes better.  I doctored it up with more brown sugar (it already had 1/2 cup in it), and a tad of butter.  A little better.  I ate it.  Mainly to dissect the problem.  Note:  In the defense of the recipe, it is supposed to be a skinny version.

First, it needed more sweetness.   I am not sure brown sugar is enough.  Maybe some molasses or honey.  Second, I should have pealed the apples.  I put them in with skin on thinking that would be healthier.  But, the skins kind of broke down into a strange, slimy, creature.  I used a Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.  Maybe other cooking apples would be better.  Cranberries would be a good touch.  And, maybe a few tablespoons of butter.  Why don’t I just actually change the entire recipe?

When Mr. Bee got home, he was doing something in the kitchen with his back to me.  I suspected almost 100% that he and Miss Bee took a bite and  then went to Whataburger.  So I asked him what he thought of the oatmeal?  Slight hesitation.  “It was okay,” he replied.  There sure was a lot left I said.  He replied, “it was very filling.”  I asked him if he and Miss Bee went to Whataburger.  Without him turning around, I KNEW it.  I could just tell by the way the back of his head looked.  They had.  Ah, Ha!  We laughed about how gross the pot of ick was.  I did the same inquisition with Miss Bee that night at dinner.  I netted the same answers.  At least they got their stories straight.  What really happened was they both sat down, took a bite.  Miss Bee said this is gross.  Mr. Bee replied, “let’s go.”

And we’ve never had overnight oatmeal since.  Then End.

The Weekly Slice: A man’s journey with pie

About a month ago, we gathered with our church friends for dinner.  It was potluck, everyone bringing something, and Mr. Bee decided he wanted to bring his very first homemade pie.  He searched through all my cookbooks and decided on The Southern Living Pie Book by Jan Moon.  He made a dark chocolate cream pie and it was out of this world.  I don’t have a photo of it because the idea of a weekly pie hadn’t been discussed yet.

Next, he tried the recipe for Buttermilk Pie, but we were disappointed.  It was a little too eggy.  Mother’s recipe for buttermilk is much better.

We were sitting around one evening discussing how he liked pie and I casually asked him how many recipes there were in the book and he said 152.  “Why don’t you try making a pie a week and we can blog about your recipes?”  He said something about we didn’t need to be eating that much pie and I said, “We could always just take a slice out to try it, and gift the pie to someone each week as a good deed — random acts of kindness!”  Mr. Bee said, “It will take three years! But, what else have we got to do!”  And, so this week officially starts — The Weekly Slice:  A man’s journey with pie.  Each week we will share his journey, the recipe and who we gifted the pie to.  There will always be a slice missing, but I think that adds to the charm.

Amelia’s Egg Custard

Bible study met at our house Monday so they were the recipients of Pie #3 Amelia’s Egg Custard Pie.  It was delicious.  It reminded me a lot of Mother’s rice pudding, but without the rice.  And, of course, his crust is made from scratch (he’s an overachiever that way).

Amelia’s Egg Custard Pie

Ingredients:

8 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar

2 TBL butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup whole milk

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Prepare crust in a 9-inch pie plate.   Do not pre-bake.

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat eggs and next four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended.  Stir in milk and whipping cream; pour into prepared crust.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (our pie took a little bit longer about 60 minutes) or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge of the pie comes out clean.  Remove from oven to a wire rack, and cool 1 hour.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cover pie, and chill until ready to serve.

Amelia’s Egg Custard 3/152

Next week’s sweet endeavor:  Vinegar Pie.

What Would Holley Wear: Fake News

“Fake News” seems to be a popular political catch phrase these days.  But for me, it’s all about wrapping up in something bright, cozy, and unapologetically faux!

 So two things I love about faux furs:

  1.  They’re perfect for Southern climates,
  2. …and they cost a whole lot less than a real fur!  

So, what says fake more than a bright hue or multi-colored faux fur?  The high volume Prada metallic gold coat with a magenta faux fur collar on our Pinterest board, has “fake news” written all over it!  And a multi-colored faux fur will not only keep you warm this winter but will also keep you right on trend.  

Gone are the days when coats and jackets were plain and boring. The beautiful yellow show stopper from New York Fashion Week on our board is anything but boring, and the colorful chevron faux fur is definitely a head turner.  One of my favorites is a periwinkle coat by J Crew…it not only looks cool, but will keep you snug when the temperature drops.  By wearing one of these stylish coats, you will be making an entrance to any event you attend.

A trend that will give you the warm fuzzies is the teddy bear coat trend.  I’m crushing on several of the chestnut brown teddy bear coats on our board…so versatile and chic.  They are a bit oversized and look great with skinny jeans and booties for a slimming silhouette.  

For a sophisticated look, think pink and wear a pink teddy bear coat with an all- black ensemble.  A burgundy teddy bear coat is another way to add class and style to your new fuzzy trend.  Both of these classy looks will transition from day time to night!

Are you thinking about upgrading your jean jacket game?  Then I’m pretty sure you will love the denim jacket from H&M with a detachable faux fur collar.  With its chill-proof lining and relaxed fit, it is spot on.  Gap’s fun take on the army green jacket is right up my alley with its detachable faux leopard collar and $79 price tag (and if you are frugal like me…just wait for one of their 40% off sales)!  

One of our fave board looks is a black faux fur trimmed jacket from Mango. They pair it with a turtleneck, skinny jeans, white sneakers, and a bucket bag. Another jacket we love from Mango is an army green jacket with a shearling collar, worn with a stripped top from J Crew, and boyfriend jeans. How fur-bulous does that sound?

An additional way to add faux fur to your wardrobe is with a vest.  I am loving all of the bohemian inspired vests on our board. Think about wearing a faux fur vest over a plaid shirt or denim jacket. Either way will reveal your inner hippie chick!  

But maybe your style is more classic.  Then you may want to copy style star, Olivia Palermo’s all black ensemble.  And what’s sexier than a long faux fur vest worn with black leather leggings, silk blouse, and knee-high boots? I’m pretty sure the answer to that is…nothing!   

So, the next time someone compliments your fur coat and asks you if it’s real, unapologetically reply…“faux” sure!!!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected]  

The Season of Advent

The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians.

During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.

Growing up in the Methodist church it was always a treat to see the lighting of the Advent candles at church each Sunday.  Something about jewel toned candles and the smell of the wax candles still brings back fond memories.  This is the traditional representation of the Advent wreath:

Here are some other ideas for a twist on the Advent candle…

And, there’s always the Advent calendar which teaches people of all ages to join with the church in anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ–the true meaning of the Advent season. They come in all shapes, sizes and varieties from traditional to modern.  Miss Bee enjoys getting one each year that she can lift the numbers and a piece of candy is inside. Some calendars focus on doing a new activity each day with the family or acts of service for someone else.

There are all sorts of fun twists I found to create your own. I’ve pinned them to my “Feeding my Soul” Pinterest board.

Ann Voskamp has a “Night before Advent” activity on her blog full of fun games and activities to do with children including a printable Advent calendar.

And here are some more examples of clever ways to put together an Advent calendar.

Adorable Woodland Inspired Advent Calendar using an over-the-door organizer. livelaughrowe.com
Don’t you just love brown paper bags!

And, then this adorable “Christmas Countdown” I purchased from Chip and Joanna Gaines at Target.  You can slip these downloadable activity cards and candy inside each pocket.

How do you like to celebrate Advent?  Do you have family traditions passed down through the generations that are special to you?  I’d love to hear them so be sure to leave a comment!

What Would Holley Wear: Glisten Up!

Glisten-up everyone…because December is the time to shine! And the good news is metallic, satin, and velvet are so on trend. Even better news…all of these glistening textures can be transitioned into your everyday wardrobe before and after the holidays.  

 So, two things I love about the holiday season:

  1. I get to spend extra time with family and friends,
  2. …and I get to add a little extra sparkle to my outfits!

Let’s start with metallic and how it has made a major impact the last few fashion seasons.  The way I see it, metallic is the perfect neutral color and texture that can jazz up an everyday or party outfit.  Since I live a very casual lifestyle, adding a metallic piece to my wardrobe is my way of adding a little spice to my everyday lifestyle.

But metallic can also add sparkle to a party outfit.  How do you plan to party during the holidays? Whether with your family at home or at a fabulous soiree, there are so many great metallic choices.  A gold metallic pleated skirt worn with a black sweater is perfect for an office party.  We are also loving a gold cropped jacket and a silver cropped jacket worn with pencil skirts.  And a silver metallic trench coat is another great office party option. Sparkle and shine!

An easy way to give your everyday jeans a holiday vibe is by adding a pair of silver metallic ankle boots. Just add a flowy blouse, and you will be the toast of the party!  If you want to shine this holiday season, a pair of metallic pants or skirt worn with an oversized sweater will do the trick.  All of these looks will take you from a family party at home to date night out on the town!  

Maybe you are more interested in being sassy in satin…then no worries!  We are crushing on a green satin skirt worn with a green plaid blouse and sparkly heels on our board.  One of the many satin tops on our Pinterest board would definitely dress up a pair of jeans.  And my favorite way to add satin to an ensemble is with a lush evening bag.  Even if you are just meeting friends at a bar, think about dressing up your outfit with a satin bag.  How sassy is that?

If you want a royal look this holiday season, then your best bet is velvet.  An easy transition piece is a velvet blazer.  For your everyday style, wear it with black jeans, and for your party style, pair it with a pair of satin pants and a blingy evening bag.  Another way to add velvet to your party style is with a pair of velvet booties in a beautiful winter hue.  And a pair of velvet ankle skinny pants (by 7 For All Mankind from Nordstrom’s) will definitely make you feel like royalty!  

My absolute favorite velvet crush this season is a velvet pleated midi skirt. There are two looks on our Pinterest board that take a velvet ensemble to the next style level. One is a gold pleated velvet skirt worn with a blazer, blouse, and velvet booties…a look that will take you from the office to out and about. And the mauve velvet skirt paired with a cable sweater is just plain pretty (Mrs. Twist spied this blush pink velvet midi at Target for $22.99)

Isn’t it nice to know there are so many colors and textures to choose from that give your holiday style some pizazz?  And isn’t it even nicer to know they can transition into your everyday style?  Oh, and by the way…if you are having a holiday party…call me!!!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected]  

Christmas Ornament Storage

I had such a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.  I enjoyed time with my besties in Austin, ate yummy meals with family, and had a sleepover with my sweet great niece.  She loves to spend time with her “Aunt Mizmee and Uncle Doe!”  I especially relished the bedtime snuggles and reading the Christmas Story to her.

And with Thanksgiving being a tiny bit earlier, it gives us a whole extra week to decorate and enjoy all the Christmas decorations.  Mr. Bee put lights up outside and I decorated four Christmas trees!  I know that sounds exhausting.  Want to know my trick? A few years ago, my friend and personal organizer Elizabeth Jones from Nest & Transformation, worked with me to organize all my Christmas decor so I know exactly where everything is.  I have an area set aside in my attic with all my storage bins and it has helped me to enjoy the holidays!

That’s my tip for this week:  Take time to organize, sort and purge any decorations or ornaments you no longer use.

I stocked up on ornament storage boxes like these from The Container Store.  Each box is $16.95, holds 75 ornaments and comes with cardboard inserts to keep each ornament safe and snug.

I organized and labeled ornaments by tree, so if I just want to decorate the family room tree one evening, I know which box to pull off the shelf.

She helped me to go through each of my ornaments and throw out broken ones and repair a few with glue.  I only kept the ones that were meaningful to me.  If they didn’t bring me joy then I placed them into the donate bin for someone else to treasure.

We created bins for each zone in the house like kitchen, powder room, mantel, entry way, Christmas pillows, books, party supplies, baking tins, etc…  This helps again to simplify the process so it’s not so overwhelming if I just want to decorate a little at a time.  If I am doing some baking, I know exactly which bin stores all my baking tins for gift-giving.

Now is the time to do this process so next year your decorating will be a breeze!  It may take a little more effort this year, but I promise it will pay off when you’re getting it all ready for 2018.

 

What Would Holley Wear: “The Best of Holley” Thankful Edition

What a difference a year can make. Holley is kind of busy being a new grandmother to baby Eli this week!  So we are running a “The Best of Holley” post from Thanksgiving 2016.  Congratulations to the Williams family!

I’m pretty sure one of the reasons Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday is it’s less stressful (unless you do all the cooking and cleaning up afterwards).  We gather together with family and friends to share a meal and to consider all that we have to be thankful for!

Two things you need to know about me:

  1.  I love everything about the Thanksgiving tradition
  2. …and I love sharing that special day with family and friends!
miller-tote
Sole Society Tote

Our Thanksgivings are always casual. Some years we “motor” to our hometown, Smackover, Arkansas! (true story…real name…Google it).  This year, we will walk across the street to share a lovely meal with our friends and neighbors, the Moses. I will miss my family this year, but the Moses are our family in Fort Worth.  They are a BIG family, they all live in Fort Worth, and they all come to the Thanksgiving dinner.  The first year we were invited to a Moseses Thanksgiving meal, I noticed all the women brought Tupperware containers to take their leftovers home. Brilliant, right?  That gave me the idea to bring a big tote — filled with Tupperware — to future Moses family meals!

So let’s talk totes!  There are many choices these days.  Three totes I covet are the Bazar Shopper by Balenciaga, the cube-printed canvas tote by Pierre Hardy, and a large Sophie Hulme tote. Unfortunately, these are not in my fashion budget, but the good news is there are many reasonably priced totes to choose from.  Longchamp has a lot of colors and since they are nylon, they are easy to clean.

madewell-tote
Madewell Tote

Madewell has a great selection of totes and you can have them monogrammed.  If you are crafty, think about making totes out of old blankets or men’s suits.  These would make fun holiday gifts as well.

recycled-blanket-totes
Recycled blanket totes

bubbe-bagBut, back to the Moses…for their dinner I have a few wardrobe options in mind. One possibility is to wear a pair of black skinny jeans, a white blouse tied at the waist, a long brown suede jacket, and black booties. Depending on the weather, another option would be a midi floral skirt, quilted jacket, belt and green bomber jacket and gray ankle boots. Though here’s the deal, whatever I wear will be paired with a black nylon Tory Burch tote filled with Tupperware…of course!  That way, if a little dressing or gravy spills out, all I have to do is wipe it off. I even came up with a name for my Thanksgiving tote, “The Bubbe Bag,” in honor of the matriarch of the Moses family, Beverley Moses (Bubbe was her grandmother name).  Beverley is no longer with us, but she always made my family feel welcome.  And for that, I am thankful!

thanksgiving-table-settingSpeaking of family tradition, I will always cherish the years growing up in Smackover and the Thanksgiving dinners at my grandparent’s house.  The way I remember it, the table setting was very elegant…china, sterling silver, linen napkins, and crystal. The kid’s table was either in the kitchen or the den, but still just as lovely.

sweet-potato-cups
Taste of Home Sweet Potato Orange Cups

We also dressed up which meant for me wearing a beautiful new dress made by mom.  The guests included my family of five, my three cousins, aunt and uncle who lived next door, Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw and Aunt Bessie (Ma-Maw’s sister). My favorite Aunt Bessie quote was at a Thanksgiving meal when she announced, “One thing I know for sure, President Kennedy and his family are not eating this well today.”

I think it was the sweet potatoes topped with roasted marshmallows and served in orange halves that made her say that.  Trust me, there was no wine!

floral-dress-with-bootsMaybe your family is like mine was “back in the day” and you get dressed up for your Thanksgiving meal and go to a fancy restaurant or to the country club.  So, please let me share some stylish suggestions that will even impress the country club crowd.  One look I love for fall is a floral dress with boots… so cute!  Pleated metallic skirts are so on trend this season and all you need to add is a bulky sweater and boots.  Even with your country club look, the whole idea is to look stylish but just not like everyone else.faux-fur-wrap-sweater-2A faux fur trimmed wrap sweater from Banana Republic will allow you to create an array of fabulous looks.  Wear it with a pencil skirt, a pleated midi skirt, or with tailored slacks and later with a pair of jeans.  All you need now is to accessorize it with a very large Bubbe Bag to discreetly take your Thanksgiving leftovers home!

Visit Holley’s Pinterest style board with fashionable ideas to get you ready for your Thanksgiving guests.

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected]  

A Message of Grief, Hope, Gratitude and Thanksgiving

This time last year in 2016, I had the opportunity to share my story of grief, hope and gratitude at Arborlawn United Methodist Church during our Hope for the Holidays service.

It’s a personal story, revealing things about me you may not know, along with practical tips that have been helpful to me in learning to move through my grieving.  It’s a faith journey that has not been easy, but along the way I’ve learned alot about life and God’s love for me.  It’s about finding gratitude in the pain. To all the people struggling with loss and emptiness during this week of Thanksgiving, we hear your prayers and lift you up toward the Lord.

My grief journey began with the stillborn death of my son, John, on Thanksgiving Day 1998.  I hadn’t been feeling movement like I should.  I went in for a checkup and my husband and I were told the devastating news. There was no heartbeat.  I was sent to Labor and Delivery to be induced.  I remember watching the nurse place a “falling leaf” on the door as a symbol to others entering our room that this was not a celebratory moment for us. I had also suffered two miscarriages prior to John’s death so this was our third baby to lose.

Following John’s death, I suffered from depression and my world — which had stopped turning — was dark, very dark.  Time stood still like I was living in a silent movie.  Deafening with quiet.  I couldn’t function.  I couldn’t get out of bed without great effort.  I felt disconnected from anything pleasurable.  I was empty and I had nothing left inside of me.

This scripture from 2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “when you’ve done everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do.”

I told God, “I need you.  I can’t do this by myself anymore.”  This was the first time in my life for me to say these words.

In 2006, my very active, vibrant Mother had a stroke.  Because my dad was blind from macular degeneration, we agreed as a family that my parents would come to live with me, my husband and our daughter.  For the next six years, we would be caregivers to my parents.

Daddy passed away in 2011 from complications related to his diabetes. To illustrate to you how much my faith had grown since the death of my child, the first emotion I felt after Daddy’s death was “joy” which may sound strange.  You see, I had four years to watch him deteriorate, become frail and slowly lose the ability to do things he once found enjoyable.  I had done much of the grieving during my caregiving — something called “anticipatory grief.”  I had also journeyed with him, and my mother, during his time in hospice.  Of course I was sad, but the joy I felt was from knowing he was in heaven, free from illness and pain, and free to to do all the things his physical body could no longer do.  Plus, I had my mother to think about.  I felt like I couldn’t grieve openly because I needed to be strong for her.

Two months later, my brother Jim, killed himself.  Jim had struggled most of his entire life with depression.  Losing my dad was probably more than Jim could bear.  I still cannot put into words the exact emotion his death left me with.  Suicide is so different.  It’s a raw pain, like someone pulling off a bandaid over and over again.  And the support you receive from others is different after suicide.  People just don’t know what to say.  In my heart, I wish Jim could have chosen a different solution, sparing his wife, son and my mother the pain of taking his life.  I will never forget the phone call I received from the police notifying me they had found my brother’s dead body, nor my mother’s face when I had to tell her that her child was dead.  Again, because my mother had lost her husband of 64 years and her 59 year old child within weeks of each other — I felt like my mother needed my strength, not my sadness.

In 2013, my mother died very suddenly from a brain aneurysm. We were literally telling each other “I love you” in the kitchen one minute and five minutes later I was calling 911.  That was a hard loss for me.  I had plans for many more years of living to do with her.  I hurt as deeply when I lost her as when I lost my son, John.  My mother was the first person that loved me, held me close, and knew everything about me. After she died, I felt like I lost all of that.  Right after she took her last breath, I remember this intense feeling of love I had for God.  Thankful that He gave my mother such a grace-filled ending to her life.  She died surrounded by her family with a tear and a smile on her face.  I am grateful God left me with that image of my mother’s beautiful face.

But, after her death I was left with three losses I needed to process and I crashed.  I was no longer a daughter or a caregiver — I struggled trying to figure out who I was anymore.  And, there were times I wasn’t sure I wanted to live anymore.

To put into perspective for you, in two years time, I lost half of immediate family.  Before I had time to process one loss, I was dropped into another, then another.

Okay, let’s set all that aside and talk about some things that have been helpful for me.

In 2006, an author named Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a memoir called, “Eat, Pray, Love” that was made into a movie.  She tells her story of the year she traveled to find herself again after a devastating divorce.  My suggestions are an adaptation of her story…

Eat — Feed Your Soul

Grief can be isolating.  Expect the opposite of who you normally are for a while, but it will get better.  Surround yourself with resources, attend a support group and rely on close friends.  Journal, sing, meditate, go for a walk, or just be still.  Sometimes if we are “doers” we think we should be replacing our grief with things to keep us busy.  But grieving will consume your free time.  Just because you aren’t active doing something doesn’t mean you are not being productive.  Your productivity right now revolves around grieving.  If you are a “to-do list” maker — plan on putting the word GRIEVING right at the top of your list everyday for awhile.  Be diligent in telling yourself “it won’t always be like this.  There is a better tomorrow waiting for me.”  This is an especially important message for you to tell yourself each night before going to bed.  Your brain needs this reassurance.

Pray — all the time

I prayed for sleep, I prayed to get out of bed, I prayed for strength, and I prayed for hope.  If praying is hard for you, or it’s not something you normally do, start small.  God already knows what’s on your heart before you even say it.  As my mother was laying in the hospital bed, I was alone in the room with her overnight.  The room was full of hospital sounds and smells.  I suddenly felt like I was going to be physically sick.  I was so overwhelmed with the reality of what was going to happen.  I closed my eyes and I just started saying over and over again, “God, please replace my anxiety with your peace.”  I must have said it 100 times.  I could feel my anxiety melt away and I was able to regain my composure to face the next moment.  On the days you feel like you can’t live because the pain is greater than you, for me those were the days I prayed the most.

Love — Love Yourself

One of the biggest emotions we struggle with after loss is guilt.  I should have known.  I should have noticed.  I should have taken the time.  I should have said something.  Did she know I loved her?  This is all normal, but remember to be kind to yourself.  We all do the best we can with what we have at that moment.  We cannot see the future, we leave that up to God.

Here are three important points:

  1.  Grieving is a full-time job and is very draining
  2. Lower your expectations of who you think you should be right now
  3. Accept that fatigue is to be expected

Jesus came to help the broken.  I am learning to live my life reaching out to God’s loving arms.  I am learning to find my gratitude through my brokenness. Every moment I choose to be grateful for the time I had with my son, John, my dad, my brother and my mother, is time I am not anxious or afraid about the future.  Because gratitude and fear cannot co-exist at the same time.  Just like He’s done for me, He will see you through this. It’s God’s promise to give you hope and a future.

 

Since the death of my son John, I was faithful in my promise to God to help others heal, find a sense of hope to move forward in their grief journey and to develop skills to help others in the future.   For 17 years, I have served as a lay facilitator for our Grief Support Ministry Team at Arborlawn United Methodist Church, in Fort Worth, Texas, where we have worked with hundreds of people by offering year around grief support groups along with the Hope for the Holidays services the week prior to Thanksgiving.  For more information, please visit www.arborlawnumc.org or email [email protected]

Mrs. Twist Reads This: Best Day Ever

Our bookclub is coming up the week after Thanksgiving and I wanted to share what we’re reading this month, and if you have time during the holiday, some ideas on other books to read over the week.

In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

“I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…”

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion.

Want to join in and read it with us?  Join the Mrs. Twist Reads This book club through BookMovement. It’s free and even if you don’t live local to our monthly meetings, you can still join our club!  It’s a great way to create accountability to spend more time reading and less time using technology.

Here’s a fun link I found for “Eleven Books You Can Read Over Thanksgiving.”  I hope to maybe checkout one or two of these books after I’ve finished all my cooking.