Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy Tuesday Day!

I can't believe summer is officially over! School started today... Dun ... Dun...dun..
                                                           

 I am in  complete denial.
Seriously.
I love summer. Flipflops, skirts, the sand, warm weather, and shorts.

The stores are ready for fall. Sweaters are coming out, Halloween costumes are abound and realistically, I'm grieving the loss of summer. Sigh. All things must come to an end. I secretly was made to live in a warmer climate, this I know... Someday.. (Keep praying) 

The thing I look forward to the most about fall is pumpkin flavored things. Last year, the world went nuts with pumpkin goodness and I was immediately tired of it. So, this year I am going to be selective of my pumpkin choices in hopes of not burning out my taste buds. I love chocolate chip pumpkin muffins... YUMO! I have recently found gluten free cake mixes. .Smile face!

To kick off the school year I decided I needed to treat myself...

            This is a life saver!!!
The Hot Apple Cider is delicious and makes it feel like fall. Even though I'm not ready for fall, I'm loving the Apple Cider!


And finally, who couldn't drink this yummy Cider out of this cute cup? It's just so fun to drink out of! I love CHIP!

Q: How was your kids first day back to school??

Angels Walking- Karen Kingsbury



 Back of the Cover: 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the first in a brand-new series about second chances—a dramatic story about a washed up baseball player, the love he left behind, and the miracles that might save them both.

When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom. Across the country, Tyler’s one true love Sami Dawson has moved on.

A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer’s who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks.

A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step.

It is time for the mission to begin…


My Review: 

As always, Karen Kingsbury does not disappoint. This book was different than many of her other books, but I truly enjoyed it. I loved the different perspective of angels being present in this book. Tyler Ames is a national baseball hero, but when he throws a pitch that throws out his arm, he learns that he is off the team and is thrown on a new course of life that he wasn't prepared for. With less than $500 in his bank account, he has to figure out what his next move is. His surgery is not covered, he is no longer employed, he is homeless and worse, he is on pain killers. Tyler is feeling stuck, but knowing that he has to do something to get himself out of the situation. Willing to do anything, he is desperate for a miracle. His miracle begins when he meets a woman name Virgina. Virgina is just the beginning of his miracle who helps him realize that God's grace can cover all mistakes. Not only is Virgina a blessing to him, but Tyler becomes a blessing to Virigina's life and her daughter, Cheryl. The miracles continue and end with Sami, a teenage love. To find out more, you'll have to read this book for yourself! I've already given you a lot of details!

Thank you Howard for providing me a complementary copy for reviewing purposes only. I was not compensated for a positive review.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

StarLite Shores Family Camp

My mind can't even begin to put into words what has happened in the past week. 


My husband and I had the opportunity to serve at Starlite Shores Family Camp which serves families with children who are facing cancer. We spend the entire we serving them, loving them and allowing them to just relax. They come to camp completely free of charge for an entire week.


They get to be a family, where cancer is not seen, but heard. Each family has a different story. Every family and child is accepted as they are and is encouraged right where they are.

I had the best week ever loving each and every moment. You can't put a price on serving people with needs that are so great, especially when their child is battling something so difficult! Not only is the child affected, but the entire family is affected too.


We served with some amazing people and I will miss them. These sweet friends live in Georgia! They are so stinking sweet. We met some great people.

This experience has wrecked me.
I'm a mess.
It's realigning my prioritorites.
It's reminding me at the end of my life, nothing I can buy is more important then human relationships.

Q: Where have you served that has wrecked you?




Friday, August 22, 2014

Home to Chicory Lane Book Review

  


Home to Chicory Lane || Book 1, A Chicory Inn Novel
Home to Chicory LaneLandyn longs for home, but her mother may have other plans.
Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.
Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?
Learn more and purchase a copy on Deborah’s website.



My Book Review:  
This book is a super cute read! I have never read a book by Deborah Raney, but I am glad this was my first one. The main story revolves around the youngest daughter to Grant and Audrey Whitman; Landyn and her husband, Chase. Chase is a young artist who has big dreams of making it big in NYC, while Landyn is realistic. When Chase makes a decision and does not ask for Landyn's permission, Landyn runs home to Missouri after being a newly wed. Landyn questions Chase' commitment to God, their marriage and to her. The two try to work things out and have a cluster of miscommunication, but when Landyn finds out she is pregnant will she choose to stay with Chase or move into the cozy Bed and Breakfast her parents have made her childhood home into? This book is bound to keep your on your toes and is a fast page turner. I found myself throughout the day wondering what was happening to Landyn and Chase. I finished the book in less than a day because it immediately hooked me. This was a fantastic book and wasn't your typical romance novel, but set in a small town where two people had real life issues that the reader can relate to. 

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for allowing me to review this book. I was not compensated for a positive review. The opinions expressed here are my own and are honest. 
Author Information:
Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deborah’s novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deborah on the web at DeborahRaney.com.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Facebook Suspension

Let's be real, Facebook is a time waster and more importantly it's turning my stomach into knots at every twist and turn. It leaves me more broken at every post and it has become this thing that promotes "ME." Who really cares about me?


It kills brain cells.
It wastes time.
It's a comparison game.
People are addicted.
Can you say drama?
Family Drama?
It's making me a mean human.
I hate how I feel, after spending 20 minutes on it.
I'm not gaining purpose.
I'm losing life and it won't matter in 20 years how many statuses I read.
I'm tired of the "Me" promotion. 

I've suspended my account until further notice, it's killing me on the inside. Facebook is a comparison game that I'm tired of playing. It's telling me where I don't measure up and making me believe a lie. Until I can find the healthy space again, I'm on suspend. It's not worth it. I can live with out it. I have a twitter, an Instagram-(Sarahsmithstorm) and a blog. These are the things I okay with, where I can be in a healthy space, be myself and not worry who, what and how the rest of the world thinks of me... And when we get to the bottom of all of this, I'm tired of comparison. I'm tired that we judge each other and I'm frustrated that people can't just be people, but we have to be people who do great things or we must not be worthy people in some way and that notion is RIDICULOUS!

Q: Maybe you're okay or maybe you're fed up with the lies of Facebook, I challenge you for a week off and see how much happier you feel, how much life you gain and then where did you spend your time? Would you get rid of your facebook or are you too connected to it?
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Star Lite Shores

Over the next week, my husband and I will be serving at a Camp called Starlite Shores Family Camp with children who are facing cancer. We are thrilled at the opportunity and thank all of your for your generosity in supporting our calling to make this happen.

Carmen & Kevin Diekevers - aka Mr. & Mrs. Starlite Shores











Carmen and Kevin Dekiever's  are the voice and vision behind Starlite Shores Camp. Our mission is to help each family feel relaxed, renewed and restored as they come to camp. We are so excited at this opportunity, to love people and serve families living through childhood cancer with the love of Christ, offering them an environment that allows them to be restored as a family. Since I will not be here and will not have access to internet, I have some posts lined up ready to go! I hope y'all have a great week! Can't wait to catch up with you Sunday!

 

Please be in prayers for each family that comes to Starlite Shores as many families have traveled and other families have had to cancel their plans for camp as their children are not well enough to come. Please keep these families who are coming in your prayers, daily, especially the siblings of these members as they are also very much affected by their brother or sister experiencing this disease. We appreciate all of you behind us this week!  


We know who goes before us and we know who stands behind us! We are ready to love on people and let God Shine!
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Grand Design Book Review Book Tour

A Grand Design
About the Book:
New From Quilts of Love || A Grand Design
A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs—if only she can let go of her past.
When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.
As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: 

Amber Stockton is an award-winning author, a national speaker, and a direct-sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader's choice awards.

Connect with Amber: websiteFacebookTwitter


My Review:

Being from Michigan, having visited Mackinaw Island, this book spoke straight to my heart. This book not only has a romance going on, but we learn why the past has haunted Alyssa and has kept her from returning to the beautiful Island. Filled with charm, an adventure to seek various pieces to help her grandmother put together a quilt from those who live on the Island, the reader learns the past of Alyssa, her family and her grandmothers life. Of course the book is filled with it's moments of laughter and moments of pain, but in the end, Alyssa finds the reason why she was suppose to return to Mackinaw Island. This is a must, to end your summer reading adventures! I highly recommend this one or you will have missed out on getting to know a great story and one of my favorite places to visit in the UP (Upper Peninsula).

Thank you to Litfuse publishing for providing me this complimentary copy in exchange for my review. I was not compensated for a positive review and this is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Darkest Hole

If you never been down the road of darkness.....

The road can be lonely, it can be dark, unbearable, and it can become long. It's like cancer, one finds themselves in remission, and then back in the battle for their life again. Fighting somedays just to get out of bed, other days struggling to make a decision or battling the thoughts to go on. Each day can feel like a year, while other days feel like a century. Depression is like the pain you feel when your flesh touches fire, it leaves scars, it feels shameful and it can make you question whether you want to live or die. 



It's a battle of the mind that one doesn't get to choose. You never choose this life. It doesn't care if you are homeless, caring for a family or a celebrity with Emmy awards, wealth and power. It grips you, leaves you empty and feeling dead on the inside.




It becomes a downward spiral, left untreated or even treated that leads one wondering what it would be like to jump over the cliff to end it all. Not because one wants to end life, because living daily life becomes so excruciating, why go on? Why go through the daily tortute and torment? 

I know the pain behind depression and suicide, because I have very dear people who I love and work with who fight this battle. It's a deep black hole that swallows them whole. My loved one who fights this battle, fights with everything in her being, she FIGHTS! Her day-to-day fights aren't always easy, but she has done everything in her power to seek treatment to beat this thing, no matter the cost. 


The thing I want people to know, it's not shameful for people to talk about depression, suicide or any other mental health concerns, but our society has given it a stigma, which has made it shameful to talk about it and I know she feels it. People just believe you should just be able dust yourself off, pick up and keep going, but it's not this cookie cutter thing. It comes back, more powerful, like a relentless hurricane, pounding the coast never ending, more forceful then the first storm.

But you see my dear loved one, she and I have this thing... She can call day or night with no judgement, cry, scream, laugh or sit in silence with me on the phone just to be. She can tell me the thoughts in her head. I'm safe. She needs someone who can just let her be herself or this thing will eat her alive. 


Dear friends, the church and the world, people don't want to be a label, they want to be themselves. They want to be loved, they want to be cared for and they want to be honest. Being honest is scary, and yet it can be so freeing for those who need to be honest.  

And yet, isn't Jesus the healer? Isn't the church suppose to be a place for those who are sick and wounded? Why has it become a place for the pretty and the perfect? Last time I checked my mirror, I was messed up, which is the reason I need the church, a Savior, because it's a place for the broken, the sick, wounded, those who need healing, redemption, forgiveness. I'm thinking if our world, our churches and our neighbors could be authentic with one another, people could be pointed towards feeling whole, they could be pointed to a God who loves them, whose son was nailed on the cross to pay for the darkness in this world. 

Honest.
Authentic
No shame here
Guilt free
Broken welcome
Grace found here.

We all have the need to experience grace no matter what situation. His arms are wide open, his love is deep and his healing can be experienced whether through His love, a miracle, His word, friendship, medical management, counseling, bringing a meal, offering to take someones children to school, giving a free date night or simply being with people in their pain. 

Depression is not your fault, let's treat the person like a person, not a person with a label, because behind every person is a story and I can't imagine after hearing their story, you wouldn't want to walk with them through the darkest spot of their life.



Food for thought:  Look around you, who needs a pick me up? Whose story do you need to start listening to? Or maybe who needs to start hearing your story? 

 The American Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  












Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Countdown

Happy Monday! 

In two short weeks, I will be back to school in trainings for professional development days, ect. I can't believe where summer has gone, but as usual I jam pack them in as much as possible.

This past weekend Drew and I realized we hadn't been to the beach to see a sunset.. That needed to change ASAP!


Watching the sun go down and sticking me feet in the sand is always so relaxing, I forget how much I miss it. 

Some days I wish my hair always looked this good wouldn't you say? The breeze made it look good, trust me when I say it doesn't look this good! 

Afterwards we went for icecream at Captain Sundane. It's a staple in Holland! You must visit and have ice cream.


I had a Vanilla come with sprinkles on top! Yummy!!!! We just had a good, relaxing and fun weekend!

How was your weekend?




Saturday, August 9, 2014

NIV Gardeners Bible Review

I must say when it comes to plants and flowers, I don't have a green thumb. My husband says it's a brown one. I usually kill flowers and plants, but not on purpose. It just happens.

When I had the opportunity to review the NIV Gardeners Bible, I thought I would give it a chance.

It's a beautiful Bible that would be a great gift for a gardener. 
It is filled with Garden Tour Devotionals that take you through the various gardens through the Bible, which is pretty  unique. 

It features 260 daily devotions and 52 weekend readings arranged in weekly themes and placed near relevant passages in the text to explore the biblical metaphors of gardens and gardening. It is a hardcover and has a topical index. Just a beautiful Bible and I cannot wait to give it as a gift!
Thank you Zondervan for providing me a copy for review purposes. This is truly a one of a kind Bible. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand WORDS

As a lover of pictures, a scrapbooker, a world traveler and a blogger, nothing captures my eye like a great photograph. 

Over the years, my photography has improved, but I'm always looking for ways to get great shots! When I had the opportunity to review a photography book, I was thrilled! 



Your Family in Pictures captures how to snap a picture perfect shot. It tells you thre equipment, lighting, the best places for great pictures! 

Best of all, anyone can learn how to take a great photo! This book is jammed packed with great ideas, techniques, composition, prep, how to set your camera, when to do it and who to do it with!
This book provides lots of tips, guidance and is hands down super user friendly.


If gives tips on holidays, graduations, how to handle snow days, cousins, bedrooms, friends, spouses, ect.
This book is just awesome! Thank you Amphoto books! This is a beautiful book and I can't wait to use this book to inspire great pictures.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Shrinking Jeans

It's official, yesterday I had to say goodbye to my favorite store- Dressbarn!

I was heartbroken!!

 I can no longer fit into their shirts. I'm too small and their pants are gappy in the butt! Ugh! I need new clothes for work because all summer I've been wearing tees and shorts, I went on a mission yesterday and found one pair of pants!
I actually bought skinny jeans by Old Navy and compared them to my old jeans.. Nuts! I need more clothes yet! Ugh!!

Goodbye old jeans! I currently fit in a size 6 comfortably, but am transitioning into a 4. I'm not looking to lose anymore weight and I'm not sure why my body keeps losing. I'm not doing anything different, but it's taken almost two months to move a pound, which shows my body is at it's ideal weight. 

After 8 months of weight loss, I'm content and happy. I'm glad to be slowly running again, building my mileage and training for a fall race. 

Q: Has your summer vacations put a damper on any if your goals? 




Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Running out of State

After this crazy week of being on vacation, I needed to know my weight. After being on Central Time, eating at different times and eating differently, I said I needed to get on the scale..
Woah!!! 134.4!! No crazy way!!! 4.4 pounds and I could be in the 120's!! That's officially nuts!! 

Before vacation, I started running and I'm now back to running 2 miles!! Yay!!
While in TN we ran around this beautiful lake that was two miles and it was break taking! 
A bit sweaty maybe, but I love a good sweat!!! 

Isn't that just a beautiful lake? I could run that loop a dozen times just to look at the lake. We even spotted deer along the trail.

It was a beautiful place to run! Oh, I miss you already Tennessee. 

Q: Where is your favorite place to run out of state?


Monday, August 4, 2014

The Grand Old Opry

Happy Monday!!

I love the South and I just love to travel !

Thursday , we went and visited the famous Grand Ole Opry. This place was absolutely beautiful, with rich country music history and a story to tell.


The Grand Ole Opry House provides tours for adults that are $20, which allows you to go behind the scenes.  The tour allows you to visit the dressing rooms where the country music stars get ready. 

If you're a member of the Opry House like Carrie Underwood, you have a mailbox, where you receive mail.
         Wonder what number she is??
Carrie Underwood is the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry and rightfully so, she can belt a song like no other.
 
We of course were able to see many of the dressing rooms, which I have on my real camera. Also, we were able to sit in the lobby area where many country music stars sit before heading out on stage. 

Standing on the stage was the best part!!

If you haven't visited the Grand Ole Opry House, I recommend the tour. It was awesome!


Next, we headed to the hotel, which is gorgeous on the inside. 
It has beautiful waterfalls, places to sit and enjoy coffee, eat, chat, read a book or enjoy the beautiful scenery. 
Next time we visit, we are totally staying at the hotel. Hands down this place is AMAZING!

Q: Have any of you visited the Grand Ole Opry or Hotel?





Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Imperfect Marriage

Whether you're married or single you can learn something from Darryl and Tracy Strawberry. 

This book addresses the topic of marriage and how Tracy and Darryls Marriage did not begin perfect. It was anything but perfect. It started from other broken marriages and was dysfunctional, but they prove that anyone can over come marriage hardships. 

They have survived adultery, financial problems, addictions, mistakes, family problems, bitterness and so many more things, yet they were able to overcome these struggles. Their marriage isn't perfect, but they can keep it authentic and our honest. This book is a learning tool for someone who's been in a marriage for twenty years or two!

Thank you Howard Publishing Company for allowing me to review this book. My honest opinion is expressed here.