A picture is worth a 1,000 words!

As most of you know, I am a firm believer in giving honor where honor is due! Today I would like to thank Zan Phillips of Zan Phillips Photography for the exquisite photography she has freely shared with me for use on this blog.

As a special treat, Zan allowed herself to be photographed and allowed me to share it with you. Her 2017 calendars are hot off the press and ready to roll. I suggest you treat yourself to one!

I have been blessed to work with some wonderful people and I would like to again thank Mike and Tracey Mishko of Mishko Photography for the fabulous cover to my first book. The Little Engine who Could Not… Mike and Tracy also took my author’s pictures used for this book. I don’t usually photograph well and I am still stunned and thankful every time I see this cover. Thank you Mike and Tracy! While I am thanking– this book would still be a manuscript if not for the wonderful work formatting done by Nick Caya and his Word-2-Kindle dream team! Thanks again, Nick!

I would also like to thank my Honored Guest Bloggers who shared wonderful words with us all this past year: Steve Gilbert, Chris Martin and the ever fabulous, Amy Hines!

You all have blessed me with beautiful artwork, wonderful stories and wise words.  I wish all of you a BLESSED and wonderful Christmas and a very happy and productive New Year!

Thanks for sharing!     XXOO- Alana

Gratitude and Grief, part 2

I hope that this finds you well and happy after a blessed Thanksgiving with friends and family. I was a little shocked and very pleased to see that social media was kind this weekend and implored other’s to be kind as well. That is a nice change for the better. And something we can all be very thankful for!

But you may have spent part of your holiday with someone who is grieving. Or maybe you are the grieved this holiday season.

We care for you, those of us who have been there know what your feeling and we are praying for you. It is hard, but you will get through it.

I’m going to let Amy K. Hines take it from here with her brilliant description of this issue:

Grief

Five letters. Five life-changing, mind-altering, soul-shaking little letters.

Grief is not the antithesis of happiness or joy. It’s so much more, because it allows both moments of joy and happiness to saunter in and hang around for brief or even extended periods of time before it swoops in to reclaim its territory. It often invites its friends depression, anxiety, and fear along for the ride to ensure our full cooperation. You see, grief knows it’s life span is seasonal and uses this knowledge against us.

Grief will drape itself around you like a warm blanket, soothing, reassuring and comforting. Then just as easily, it will wrap around your neck in noose-like fashion, choking, smothering, destroying. Worse yet, if allowed, it will launch a preemptive strike on your heart; clenching it in a seemingly unshakable vice, which leads you to believe it will never leave you and you will never recover. But, never say never…

Grief operates under the assumption that we are not willing to fully explore the depths of our loss and pain. And seriously, who really wants to sign up for that? The truth is, you do. I do. We all should. There is healing in discovery. Remember, the truth will set you free.

Grief can be friend or foe, and that depends solely on how we choose to interact with it. Like any other rogue emotion, we have to constantly put grief in its place. We must always remind it who is the boss, and that goes for the friends, depression, anxiety and fear as well.

Grief can lead you down the pathway to healing or send you spiraling into the abyss of emotional damage. The choice is ours. We can choose to let grief do what it was designed to do, help us mourn and move on or we can choose to allow it consume us.

I recommend the former, and I’m pretty sure whomever or whatever you’ve lost would say the same.

Amy, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Grief is a hard one, a path none of us wish to walk, but in season, walk we must.

This holiday season, let’s all be kind to those on this path and share our love, prayers and kindness with them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Randomly…

angelPhoto courtesy of Zan Phillips Photography, Jackson, Mississippi.

 

My Honored Guest Blogger today hails from Mississippi. It is not a pattern here folks, just a lot of artistic talent comes out of the deep south and I am blessed to be connected to the source! Amy Hines is a gifted writer, artist, and graphic designer. In fact, she had a blog before blogs were cool! I am very pleased to share one of her posts with you today and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Remembering Randomly

I’m a prayer, if I say I’m going to pray for you I will. Or at least that is my sincere intention.

As a prayer, one of the worst things that has ever happened to me was someone thanking me for praying for them– when I hadn’t. I was mortified, horrified, and victimized. I usually responded with something like, “I’m glad you are:” A. Better, B. things worked out, C. still alive, or D. All of the above. Then I would feel terrible that I had not actually prayed for you. I would pull out my “bad-Christian” banner and wear it for a bit. Meanwhile, guilt, condemnation and Shame would cheer and snuggle up a little deeper.

Surely I’m not the only one who has ever experienced this? I can’t be the lone non-prayer? If there were a non-prayer’s anonymous, I’m confident I would not be the only one attending the meeting, right?

For the most part, this is no longer an issue because I pray on the spot.

Note: if you attempt the on-the-spot method, be careful. This will freak some people out! Also this only works if all parties are willing participants, and please, use your manners!

I forget lots of things- especially things with dates, like birthdays, and I know the reason I forget things.

I’m human.

My brain is a little tired.

I am busy, busy. That is an entirely different topic of discussion. I think we need an after school special on “BUSY: A Life Sucking Vermin”. Sigh, moving on…

I’m much better than I’ve ever been. I’ve made some changes. I pray randomly throughout the day, because that is what works for me. I use post-it notes. I’ve cut back or eliminated things that sucked my time, all good stuff.

unfortunately, there still is the rare occasion where something slips past my radar. It doesn’t happen often but it did happen this morning. Several hours after the cheers of the GCS  ( guilt, condemnation ,shame) triple threat died down, a guy I know randomly crossed my mind. I stopped and prayed for him. Randomly, after I finished praying, I remembered when Paul was chatting with Timothy and the folks in Philippi and said, “at every remembrance of you…” (Phil 1:3)

That’s a lot of random and remembering in a short time. That’s Smokey and the Bandit fast.

“At every remembrance of you” is me-speak for “whenever you cross my mind”. I like that. It’s organic and easy. There is a simplicity and a flow to it.

Paul then follows that up with, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in your will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

To me, that is him saying, “I pray for you when I think about you, but regardless, God’s has GOT THIS. PERIOD.”

There’s freedom in that. You never had to take the floor at a NPA meeting and confess your sin. Your off the hook trying to remember every detail, freed from the guilt of forgetting and confident in knowing God will always help you randomly remember.

 

Thank you Amy for such refreshing honesty! I to have forgotten at times, the guilt is crushing.  I carry a notepad every where I go and write my prayers now. For myself and for other’s. Your name is in my prayer journal more than once, dear friend!

The photo used with this post is again, courtesy of Zan Phillips, Jackson Mississippi. Please visit her Facebook page for more incredible images or to contact  Zan.