Anxiety, party of one…

     Let me begin by saying that you are not alone! Anyone who has ever struggled with anxiety before in their life knows that overcoming this battle is no easy task. You read book after book, listen to speaker after speaker and spend countless hours and tears worrying about the future, about the past, about the present… sometimes I worry about worrying. It can be a long and lonely journey and there are days it seems my worrying knows no bounds. For the longest time I let my anxiety and fear define who I was. It played a role in every decision I made, it was at the root of many sleepless nights. I would love to tell you that today I am living worry free, but that would be lie. What I will tell you is that everyday I grow and everyday I learn a little more about what it means to fully rely on God and let go of the things that are holding me down. Maybe you are reading this article and you are thinking about how much you can relate or maybe you are reading this article and haven’t the slightest idea- either way this post is for you. While I am no professional and have no fancy schooling when it comes to this I can tell you that I am writing from experience and sometimes that is just as helpful. The more open I am about my struggle with anxiety the more people I meet that are struggling with the same thing. I hope that in some way you find a renewed sense of hope in this post. While I may not know your name, know that I am praying for you.

      So you are reading this article and feel like you can relate- This paragraph is for you: Have you ever noticed that worry seems to take on the snowball affect. It begins with one thing and next thing you know you find yourself in the midst of a anxiety attack. Everyone has different triggers for their anxiety, from financial to marital to health and every thing between. For some people you worry about yourself, for others it is for your family and friends. I want you to take a minute and think, what is it that worries me the most? I believe my biggest struggle is fear of the unknown. I mean hey, if I had all the answers for life I could really worry a lot less. Of course I am positive I could still find something else to worry about. One of the things that helps me the most is to take a piece of paper and write down some of my biggest struggles, being sure to take things as individual events and not one big picture of your life- for example I recently had a wisdom tooth taken out, this was my first tooth to ever be removed and going in to this not knowing at all what would happen I spent the entire week before operating at a 12 on the anxiety scale (of 1-10). I was worried about everything, you would have thought It was the stone ages and I was the first person to ever have a tooth pulled. The morning of the procedure I arrived to the office and spoke with the nurse about what was going to happen and what to expect. Because the tooth had already come in it was able to be removed with just some local numbing and looking back on it now I see how this was a blessing as I was able to be awake and alert for the whole procedure and see how not-big-of-a-deal it really was. Because this procedure was the week of Thanksgiving and I work retail I was only able to be out for the day of the pulling and then it was back to work for long days. I do think that this combined with a dry socket contributed to the painfully long and anxiety ridden healing. There were many sleepless, painful nights that would spend thinking how will I ever learn to adjust to this pain and cope with it for the rest of my life. 14 sleepless nights, 1 hungry thanksgiving, three 24 count bottles of Ibuprofen, two weeks and a black Friday at work later I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It had finally passed and I was rejoicing at the healing that had taken place. I often look back at this event as a reminder of hope. In the midst of this I was sure that it was how my life would be, I would never be pain free again.  I was sure that the doctors and nurses had made some mistake, they were telling me it was normal but surely it wasn’t. I like to take this same format for other areas of anxiety in my life I have over come, while these questions may seem juvenile and may not be the most effective for everyone I have found them to be a great way to slow my mind and focus on one thing.

     1. Describe the situation.

     2. Give a brief description of your biggest fear/worry regarding the situation.

     3. On a scale of 1-10 rate how realistic these fears are?

      4. Who is someone that you can talk to about this?

      5. If this situation was reversed and someone you knew was worrying about this what      advice would you give them?

     6. What does the bible say about this?

      7. Pray about it.

    I will not lie to you, the journey to overcome anxiety is long and treacherous, there are many tears. But remember, Rome was not built in a day, it is the small victories over the little battles with anxiety that give you the momentum to tackle the big things. It’s know that every tear that you cry is held in the hand of the Creator. His timing is perfect and His grace and mercy is new every morning. Take each day step by step, being thankful for the good and consistent things in your life.  Know this, you are not alone.

     If you are reading this post and know that anxiety is not something you struggle with you probably know someone who does and this paragraph is for you: Anxiety can be hard to deal with and even harder to admit. Often times people who struggle with anxiety feel like they are being a burden in talking to you about it. I encourage you to take the time to listen to what your friend or family member is saying. To you it may seem ridiculous but to someone else it could be a big deal. Your encouragement and support can go a long way. Never underestimate the power of your words, whether that be for good or bad. Please do not misunderstand me, there is a difference between supporting and enabling. Take account of your actions to ensure that you are aiding in the progress and not hindering. I am sure whoever it is that is struggling with anxiety is glad to have a friend who cares.

     I am so grateful for you taking the time to read this. I hope in some small way it has helped. Remember, those first small steps are crucial to conquer the big things.

-EAS

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Got a moon and a billion stars…

There is something to be said for fresh air and how it makes you feel. I did my best to take full advantage of that tonight seeing as how the weather held out at a beautiful 78 degrees for a majority of the night. I started the night with some ice cream and a walk through town with my precious 7 year old neighbor. But it was way too pretty outside to call it quits so after dropping him back at home I decided it was the perfect night for an outdoor movie :) In college we would pull the TV out in to our back yard and all of our neighbors would bring out their couches and we would sit out there and watch movies till early in the morning. It is one of my fondest memories from college. Tonight just happened to be perfect for an outdoor movie. After a quick stop by my parents house to pick up a lawn chair I was all set. This set up was sure not anything fancy but it worked…

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     Tonight I realized just how thankful I am for my Iphone. not only was I able to watch the same movie as my old college roommate down in Gainesville but we were able to be talking on the phone at the same time… pretty cool, right? Technology is awesome-when I can figure it out. When it comes to taste in movies we are polar opposites.. so we picked the only movie we could agree on, Turtle Tales. Had I been 15 years younger I am sure I would have loved this movie but after 30 minutes in it was about all I could take. We ended up doing a 4 way call between all of the roommates from college, that was a sweet surprise to say the least. Sometimes it is just nice to have a break from worrying and thinking about all the crazy business that fills your mind the other 23 1/2 hours a day so it was nice to just have a break and enjoy some music and look at the stars.

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^View from the front porch…

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^the train <3

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^A little music :)

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^ The new Scotty McCreery single.. It is pretty good if you haven’t heard it yet I do recommend it.

      I know there was no real rhyme or reason to this post but thanks for reading anyway… I hope you were able to get out and enjoy this amazing weather also. It is amazing how good some fresh air can make you feel.

<3 EAS

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Purpose…

     I have been thinking a lot about life lately. What it is, what it means and what my purpose is. It is interesting, as a girl you spend so much of your childhood dreaming about things and what life will be like when you grow up. Whether it is planning your dream fairytale wedding, working that amazing job, raising your perfect Lands End children or whatever it is that you dreamed about as little girl. Somewhere along the way you learn that growing up doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams but you do learn that in the real world things can be a little different. I am learning a lot about what it means to wait on God’s timing and be content with what I have and where I am. 

      I have been blessed by the good Lord with some of the most amazing friends. They are spread across the south: Gainesville, Fl. Eastman, Ga., Charleston, SC., Clinton, NC., and a few here still spread across the great state of North Carolina. They are super talented whether it be event planning, blogging, real estate, hair, missions, teaching or being an amazing mom. (just to name a few) It is so easy for me to look around at them and think how much more talented they are, how much prettier they are, how much more they have their lives together. Let me tell you, this is no way to live. It has taken me a long time to finally feel like I can look around at what God has given me and who he has made me and feel like I am truly created in His image and that he has a purpose for me. Maybe you are reading this and thinking I am just being dramatic and maybe I am. Or maybe you are reading this and you feel like you can totally relate. Either way, please understand- the bible tells us that we are created in His image and we have a purpose, a purpose to bring glory and fame to His name and His kingdom. This whole time I was so focused on myself, who am I, how can I truly prosper and how can I be more successful that I was missing what I was truly created for.

     I would like to say in finding this purpose that I have since found contentment in what I have and where I am but there are still days that I struggle with this. In the business of everyday life I all to frequently neglect to live my life as a testament to the forgiveness that I have through the living, dying and rising again of Jesus Christ as he has paid the price and we have been made new and continue to be made new in the eyes of God. His grace and mercy are such a mystery yet such a familiar place. My joy is found not in countless earthly things that I all to often use as a measure of success but in the one true God. If you take anything away from this post, and I hope you do, please know that there is a God who loves you so much. He yearns to have a relationship with you. Will you seek Him today?

1 Samuel 16:7 “but the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart'” (Thank you dad for always loving this verse and reminding us what is truly important)

-Erin Amanda

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Let them bloom…

I came home from church this morning and my neighbors were outside gardening in the front yard. It inspired me to get out there and do something with my front yard, so I did just that. Mom and I took the truck to Lowes today to get some gardening supplies and picked up a table to match some chairs that we had and some begonias. For as long as I could remember mom has spent long, hard hours out in here garden working to create a beautiful escape. I guess I never really realized how long and hard it is to get a garden started from nothing and today I learned. I didn’t get to the back yard but today I made good progress on the front, although it is not complete yet it is a start. Here are some pictures:

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Before ^

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^The flowers

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^During! I found this old pot of good soil back behind the bush and it was just enough to do my front two gardens.

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^After! Still needs a lot of work but it is making progress. Tonight after I came home from church I trimmed the bushes and raked out the old leaves. It helped :)

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^and of course I found plenty of these, you know what this mean- perfect time for fishing :)

Stay posted and I will update with pictures from the backyard and as my flowers bloom, because hopefully they will.

Thank you for reading :)

-Erin Amanda

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Jambalaya & Crawfish Pie…

I’m not much for cooking but I have been trying more over the past couple of weeks. Tonight I have decided to make Jambalaya, one of my favorites. One of my favorite jambalaya mix’s is the Zatarains. It is so simple to use and so rich in flavor.

Zatarains

First I set up some chicken last night to marinate in “Slap ya mama” seasoning and onions.  After letting it marinate for about 24 hours I fried it in a frying pan just letting it darken on both sides. After it had nearly cooked all the way through I added in some smoke sausage to heat with the chicken. Following the simple directions I added in the mix and meat to 2 1/2 cups of boiling water and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

Stovetop

I could hardly wait, it smelled so good. Of course I know I can never really funny enjoy my meal until I have cleaned the kitchen. So I spent that 30 minutes of its simmer time to clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher.

Clean sink

I also had just enough time to make a batch of Mississippi mud pie brownies. In case you have not yet tried these brownies they are super easy to make and always a hit.

Brownies

 

and now, the moment you have been waiting for: The finished product! It was so good, and exactly what I was hoping for. The only thing I would have changed would have been to have made it a little spicier. It wasn’t exactly as flavorful as I would have liked but it was delicious all the same.

 

Finished product

As I continue to cook and try new recipes I would love to hear you selections! As always, thank you for reading :)

-Erin

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An old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind…

I recently spent some time in South Georgia visiting friends from college. I had such a good time I thought I would share about it. I am not sure if you watch the show “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” but the town we visited was about 1 hours from where Honey Boo Boo lives. (not important or relevant- just a fun fact). Our trip was off to an interesting start, let me begin by saying I have some of the most amazing friends in the whole world. My dear friend Alaina rode the train all the way from Gainesville, FL to Raleigh, NC just to get right in the car with me and ride down to Eastman, GA. What a trooper. After picking Alaina up at the airport we got in the car and began to drive. After realizing we had forgotten the GPS we decided we would be fine to find it using highway sounds, after all we just have to drive south right? False. After 30 minutes driving south on the highway we decide to consult our smartphones for reassurance that we were heading in the right direction- but alas, we were not. At this point we decided it would be best to stop by a AAA and get a map- this turned out to be a great choice. Image

So after our brief stop we were off, and on our way. For those of you who have ever traveled on I95 south between North Carolina and South Carolina you know that there, right on the border lies a great treasure, South of the Border. This quaint gem is always worth a stop. Although its peak season is summer there is still fun to be had year round. ImageImageImageAfter several more hours we had finally arrived, time to get out of the car and it was so wonderful. It was so good to see Rachael and Luke. We ate dinner and talked. The next morning Luke was off to work so we used that time for some girl time. We bundled up and headed out in the Samurai for some adventure :) ImageImageImageWe had such a good time, in such a small town with very few paved roads it was fun to get out and enjoy the quiet. Although with us (and Luke Bryan on the Ipod) it didn’t stay quiet very long, haha. We had such a good time. So much fun, and of course just like the previous day- we ended it with some of the best peach cobbler I have ever had.

The next day we went to see Safe Haven and did a little fishing. Alaina was on fire with catch total of 12 fish. Me and Rachael brought in a combined total of 6. But we had fun and that is all that mattered… or so they say.

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To finish out the trip we got to meet Rachael’s new donkey J.J. He is absolutely precious and loves him some poptart’s.
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Overall the trip was amazing, it was so to leave. Because of their obedience to the Lord in bringing the Gospel to the nations I know that the visits with Rachael and Luke here in the US are very rare, which made leaving all the more sad. And because it was only right we began the long car ride home with a little Ray Charles.

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As I said earlier in this post, I am so thankful for great friends that encourage me daily to be more like Christ.

Thanks for reading :)

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These are a few of my favorite things…

I love to hear people talk about the things that they love. There is something inside of people that just lights up when they are talking about family, hobbies, friends or whatever it is. This post is rather simple, its just a few of my favorite things. The things that make my heart glad!

I have heard it said that when a mother has children it is like having a little piece of her heart walking around outside of her body, and I know that is how my sister feels. She is an absolutely amazing mother and she inspires me everyday. She has three beautiful children that make my heart so glad. My 2 nieces and nephew are such bright and cheerful encouragement:

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Remington Grill…I love this place! So good!! If you have never eaten at a Remington Grill I highly recommend it:

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My Next Step Sunday school class and our fellowship to Kabuki:

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Funny text messages from good friends:

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And most of all this holiday season I have the Joy of Christ and His gift of eternal life. Props to Megan at http://www.theremodeledlife.com for her beautiful tree and handmade ornaments:

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What are some of your favorite things? The things that make your face light up and warm your heart?

Thank you for reading!

-Aunt E :)

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#sothankful

This post originally started out a post about how crazy this week has been. But as I began to type I realized just how much I have to be thankful for in the midst of this crazy, hectic season. God has given me so much to be thankful for. So tonight, instead of listing the things I have to complain about, I am going to share a few things I can be thankful for about this week.

1. The warehouse is fully loaded with 35 furniture boxes. This means that lots of expecting mothers are going to be happy this holiday season because they can begin to set up their nurseries! It also means that business has been going good and our customers are pleased :)

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2. I got lots of organizing done at my desk and I am ready to start the new year off on the right foot. In addition to it being organized, it looks cute!!

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3. i was able to end the week celebrating with a few of our favorite customers as we enjoyed our VIP Golden Ticket event with sparkling apple cider and cranberry apple cider. There was also, chocolate…definitely add that to the thankful list :)

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4. And the very best part is that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Christmas, the holiday that reminds us that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to the world to die for our sins.

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What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Thank you for reading!

-EA

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Downtown <3

There is so much to be said for a small town. So rich in history and character. Below are just a few pictures from my town. They are simple images but hold lots of memories. Although my favorite is when downtown is all decorated for old-fashioned 4th of July I do love the way the downtown looks for Christmas.

The first two pictures you see are my view coming to work:

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and the next two you see will be my view leaving from work at night:

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I am truly blessed to live and work in such a beautiful town

Thank you for reading!

-Erin Amanda

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Red Velvet- okay for cookies but not for sweatsuits…

It is almost Christmas, and you know what that means! Cookies!!! We recently had a cookie exchange for our community group. It was so fun and the cookies were so good! I had seen a recipe for red velvet cookies before and red velvet being my favorite I knew that was what I wanted to try. So with a little begging I was able to talk my friend Monya into coming to help me (little did she know that it included hanging all the Christmas lights, too)! So, in true Erin fashion I did no planning or looking for a recipe before heading off to the grocery store (thank goodnes for smartphones). However, upon arriving at the grocery store I found that almost all the recipes were rather ingredient and instruction intense. In search for something much cheaper and less time consuming we had to think quick on our feet. We left the store with 1 bag of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix, 1 box of Duncan-Hines red velvet cake mix, one carton of eggs, a bag of white chocolate chips and a box of butter. When we got back we mixed together both of the powder mixes. We added just enough butter that the cookies bag called for and soon realized that wasn’t enough and added another 1/2 stick totaling 1 1/2 sticks of butter…(yeah, they were really good…not exactly good for you), 1/2 bag of white chocolate chips and 2 eggs. After mixing the cookie dough it came out looking rather interesting:

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we laid the dough out in small balls and placed on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. we weren’t sure how much they were going to rise/spread because after all they are half cake half cookie… cakies…cookes? So with the first ones we allotted more space but they spread small, about the same size as a regular cookie:

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here is Monya with the cookies, getting ready to place them in the oven at 375 degrees. These cookies bake a record speeds. We put them in the oven for approximately 4 minutes per tray. When we pulled them out they were still a little gooey but they cooled to be the prefect cookie. After taking them out of the oven we put a little icing on top of them of them to melt and give them that perfect sweet topping (as if they werent sweet enough, we were going for a candy cane look)…

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I was nervous to try one of these cookies, which know that I think about it I don’t know how it could have possibly been bad… it was pretty much just sugar and butter. They were delicious. I know I had more then enough to make an accurate decision…

Have you tried any cookie recipes that are quick, in-expensive and outstanding?

Thank you for reading <3

-EA

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