Y’all remember that from time to time I do sponsored posts for US Family Guide.  Today I’m going to share some information and an offer to save on Coobie seamless bras.  Here’s what they’ve asked me to share:

Coobie Seamless Bras are ultra comfortable and versatile without sacrificing style. These affordable, stylish bras are seamless, one-size (comfortably fits 32A through 36D), available in 10+ styles and 50+ fashion colors and patterns. There is also a full size that fits 38-42D.

Violet Love Headbands are no-slip no-headache headbands that are perfect to wear for yoga, pilates, or just as a stylish accessory. They are made from Premium quality fabrics that are buttery soft and super comfy.

Promotion for my readers: Save 30% on any order of Coobie Seamless Bras or Violet Love Headbands at www.shopcoobie.com and http://www.violetloveheadbands.com
Use Promotion code: USFG30

Now, y’all, I don’t know a thing about these bras except what I’ve been told–but looking at the pictures, I am intrigued.  They will be sending me a free one, and after I try it out I will be reviewing it here, so stay tuned.

Love and Fear

Unless all your Facebook friends think exactly like you, your newsfeed is probably like mine right now–completely polarized on the issue of admitting Syrian refugees to the United States.

On one side are those who believe that terrorists will take advantage of the situation to sneak into the country to do us harm.  On the other are those who believe we have a moral responsibility to welcome the stranger.  Some of the first group are racists who think all Muslims are terrorists; most feel bad for the refugees but are sincerely concerned about the safety of themselves and their loved ones.  Some of the second group are motivated by Christian beliefs, others by their sense of what this country is supposed to stand for.

Both groups demonize the other.  Both groups are afraid–one of the consequences to our country if we admit the refugees, the other of the consequences if we don’t.

Both groups seem increasingly desperate in their attempts to convince each other that they are right, posting and reposting poorly-sourced and slanted news articles and judgmental memes.

I fell prey to this temptation myself the other day when I posted this:

While 40 of my friends “liked” this post, many others, lacking a “dislike” option, shared their feelings in the comments.  In the end, I realized that posting something like this might make me feel good for a minute or two, but it doesn’t convince those who disagree with my position to change their minds.  I left it up, if anyone wants to read the discussion it engendered.

Lesson learned, since then I’ve gone back to trying to be informative rather than judgmental and I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what this crisis is doing to our country and to our relationships with each other.

If the goal of terrorism is to create fear, then we are all letting the terrorists win.  If half of us are so afraid of terror attacks that we are ready to ignore our responsibility as Christians, human beings, and yes, American patriots to welcome the stranger, the terrorists are winning.  If the other half of us are letting this disagreement divide our nation, if we are demonizing our friends, neighbors, and relatives instead of trying to alleviate their fears, the terrorists are winning.

Lorelei has a great picture book called The Monster Who Grew Small.

A retelling of an Egyptian folktale, it is the story of a boy who is afraid of everything.  On a quest to find courage, he comes upon a village of people so paralyzed by fear of a nearby monster that they are unable to function.  As the boy approaches the terrible creature, he finds that it grows smaller and smaller until he is able to pick it up in his hand and take it with him back to the village:

The people crowded round to see the Monster. It woke up, yawned a small puff of smoke, and began to purr. A little girl said to Miobi, “What is its name?”
“I don’t know,” said Miobi, “I never asked it.”
It was the Monster himself who answered her question. He stopped purring, looked round to make sure everyone was listening, and then said:
“I have many names. Some call me Famine, and some Pestilence, but the most pitiable of humans give me their own names.” It yawned again, and then added, “But most people call me What-Might-Happen.

Are we going to let the fear of What-Might-Happen destroy our country from within?  Even if you take issue with calling America a Christian nation, there’s no denying that the majority of Americans say that they are Christians.  Aren’t Christians supposed to believe that God is in control?

So I’ll leave you with these words from 1 John 4:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . . There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. . . If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen,cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command:  Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

What might happen if we embraced love–both of our fellow Americans who disagree with us and of refugees–instead of fear?

Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.- Marianne Williamson.png

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances- #1000Speak

In the fifth grade, we were assigned to present short plays adapted from books we had read.  My best friend asked me to appear in her scene from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place.

Corrie and her family were members of the resistance in Holland during World War I, and she spent time in a concentration camp for these activities (which included hiding Jews in a secret room in the family home).

Corrie and her sister Betsey had managed to sneak a Bible into the camp with them, and in our scene they were praying over a verse in First Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

It sounded crazy to Corrie to thank God for their current circumstances, and it probably sounds even crazier to us, but Betsey was able to point out two obvious blessings: that they were assigned to the same camp and that the Bible had not been taken from them.  But when she started to give thanks for the fleas in the barracks, Corrie thought she had taken leave of her senses–until later, when the women in their barracks were left untouched by the soldiers who would have raped them but for distaste for the fleas.

Most of us won’t have to deal with circumstances that are so dire, but being thankful in all circumstances is still a great attitude to have, and one I’ve been trying hard to cultivate.  Every night I start my prayers by thanking God for everything good about my day.  And I don’t mean big things–I mean things like a sunny day, or having time to work in my garden, or a nice dinner, or an easy time getting William’s homework done.  I’m not allowed to ASK for anything until I say thank you, and plenty of times I fall asleep before I make it to the end of the gratitude list!

They say that practice makes perfect, and practicing gratitude is no different.  When I started doing this I had a harder time coming up with things to be thankful for.  Now my list is long and I find myself looking forward to  this ritual.

I’ve even come to be grateful for trials, because they’ve led me to be compassionate towards others who suffer.  Financial problems, broken cars, difficulties in parenting, even the loss of our home and possessions to fire–all of these have presented me with opportunities to empathize with others who have suffered and have saved me from the temptation to judge them.

This post is part of #1000Speak, a monthly linkup with the goal of writing about and spreading compassion.  The topic for this month is Gratitude.  To see other posts, please click the picture below.


Fond Farewell to Autumn

I know that Fall won’t end officially for another month.  But let’s face it, the best part of it is over.  There are no more beautiful leaves on the trees and everyone is thinking about Christmas.

Every day (almost) since the first day of Autumn, I’ve made a picture to share on my blog using my own photographs and suitable quotations.  Just as I did earlier this year with my Spring quote pictures, I thought it would be nice to put them all together in one post along with a little information about each of them.


October 2014, Holloway Cemetery, Knoxville.

“Autumn flings her fiery cloak over the sumac, beech and oak.” ― Susan Lendroth

October 2015, Island Home Park, Knoxville.

“Autumn is my spring!” ― August Strindberg

October 2015, Notre Dame University.

“In Heaven, it is always Autumn-.” ― John Donne

October 2014, Holloway Cemetery.

“Take heart and dive into the quiet maturity of autumn.” ― Kristian Goldmund Aumann

October 2015, Holloway Cemetery.

“the fallen leaves in the forest seemed to make even the ground glow and burn with light” ― Malcolm Lowry

October 2015, Victor Ashe Trail, South Knoxville Urban Wilderness.



October 2014, Meads Quarry, Knoxville.

Are we not better and at homeIn dreamful Autumn-- Ernes Dowson

October 2014, Woodlawn Cemetery, Knoxville.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.- Albert Camus

October 2014, Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville.

Autumn is Nature's last party of the year.- Deborah Walsh

Fall 2014, Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, South Knoxville Urban Wilderness.

Be like autumn leaves which follow exactly the rhythm of the wind!― Mehmet Murat Ildan

October 2014, Holloway Cemetery.

Beauty for some provides escape, who gain a happiness in eyeing Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying. – Langston Hughes

September 2011, my back deck, Knoxville.

Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change.- Edwin Teale

Fall 2014, First Creek, Knoxville.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

October 2014, Meads Quarry.

Falling leaves hide the path so quietly. – John Bailey

Fall 2014, Campus of Knoxville Catholic High School.

In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible. - Elizabeth George Speare

October 2014, Forks of the River.

It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon. ― Sarah Addison Allen

October 2014, Meads Quarry.

It's so strange that autumn is beautiful, yet everything is dying.- Unknown

October 2014, Holloway Cemetery.

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face. - John Donne

September 2015, Will Skelton Greenway, Knoxville.

October proved a riot to the senses . . ..- Keith Donohue

October 2014, Ijams Nature Center.

October, baptize me with leaves!- Rainbow Rowell

October 2014, Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville.

Once more the liberal year laughs out O'er richer stores than gems or gold- Once more with harvest song and shout Is nature's boldest triumph told.John Greenleaf Whittier

November 2012, Krutch Park, Downtown Knoxville.

Sweet and smiling are thy ways,Beauteous, golden Autumn days.- Will Carleton

October 2014, Will Skelton Greenway.

The earth has now fulfilled its design for this year, and is going to repose for a short time.-Christoph Christian Sturm

October 2014, Will Skelton Greenway.

The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world's oldest performance art.- Shauna Niequist

October 2014, Meads Quarry.

The magic of autumn has seized the countryside.- Elizabeth Coatsworth

October 2014, Ijams Nature Center.

The October sun filled the world with mellow warmth...- Elizabeth George Speare

October 2014, Forks of the River.

The twilight of the year is sweet-Where shadow and the darkness meet . . .- Ernest Dowson

October 2014, Stanton Cemetery, Meads Quarry.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.John Muir

Fall 2013.

Untitled design (2)

October 2014, across the road from Byrd’s Chapel Cemetery, Knoxville.

Untitled design (3)

October 2014, Holloway Cemetery.

Untitled design (5)

October 2014.

It was fun–sometimes challenging–creating these.  I hope you enjoy this look back at Fall, a season that always seems to pass too quickly.

Y’all know I’ve made some serious efforts to get in shape to improve my health over the past couple of years.  And like most people, I’ve had ups and downs in the journey!  I haven’t fallen off the wagon completely, but we haven’t walked as often, I’ve eaten more carbs than I should, and I’ve put a few pounds back on.

I’d been saying for over a year that I was going to join the gym–specifically, the gym that is associated with my doctor’s office, and which is a five-minute drive from my house–but I never seemed to find the time.  But Emily wanted to join as well, so she was the one that finally got the ball rolling.

So she and I are now official gym members, and have experienced our first workout.  She’s not familiar with the machines, but I still remember how they all work fortunately.

I’ve been a gym member off and on since the kids were little, first at the Y, and later at the now-defunct Ladies Choice.  I know from experience that my best efforts at weight loss came when I was lifting weights as well as watching my diet.  Plus I actually enjoy doing weights!

The challenge, as always, is TIME.  I don’t have any extra time, about which more in another post, but this is important so we are going to go three mornings a week, first thing, during a time when I am generally either doing blogging tasks or working.

It feels good to get started and I will let you know how it goes.  Perhaps the additional exercise will counteract the effect of the approaching holiday cheer!


Like everyone, I was horrified by the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, for which the Islamic State is claiming responsibility.

When things like this happen, the Internet predictably divides itself into camps.  I’m part of the camp that doesn’t want to see innocent Muslims demonized and discriminated against because of the actions of a minority of violent people who claim to honor the same prophet.

So because I do tend to engage in politics on Facebook, I posted this response by a prominent American Muslim:

When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising the Prophet Muhammad or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims.

I did not realize at the time that this was a recycled article that was written in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year, attacks that are believed to have been orchestrated by Al Quaeda, a group whose aims, methods, and ideology are quite different from those of ISIS.

While my original intent in posting the article–to highlight the fallacy of tarring all Muslims with a terrorist brush–is still valid, my posting it became a learning opportunity for me.

A Facebook friend who is career military took issue (politely) with the article, and posted a link to another article that I have found tremendously enlightening.  I knew very little about the Islamic State before reading it, and now I feel that I have a much better understanding.  I am grateful that he took the time to read my post and to share his perspective with me.

Some key points:

We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world. . . .

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. . . .

Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.

I myself have no problem distinguishing between the Islamic State and the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the countries they inhabit, any more than I have a problem distinguishing the vast majority of Christians from various crazy fringe groups who spout hate-filled rhetoric Jesus would never endorse.

We can acknowledge the religious motivations of the Islamic State without accusing our Muslim friends and neighbors of being terrorists.  There is no need to follow the example of the candidates at the second Democratic debate, who were all reluctant to talk of Radical Islam and tried to minimize the role religion may have played in the recent attacks in Paris.  To ignore the ideology of the Islamic State is perilous.  We must know the enemy to defeat it.

And we shouldn’t be afraid to challenge one another on whatever assumptions we make, and to listen to and learn from one another.



I took this photo looking down the hill from my front porch.  We live about halfway up the hill.  The original plan for our neighborhood was that the houses would get bigger and bigger going progressing up the hill so there would be ginormous houses at the top where the view is amazing.  However, the neighborhood was going to be built in two phases and the recession happened after the first phase.  The original builder backed out of the project after our house was built.  So our house is the biggest house, and eventually a new builder came in and built much smaller houses all the way up the hill.  I hear that a lot of people in the big house part of the neighborhood were angry about this, feeling that it would damage their property values.  I personally think it’s hilarious.




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