Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Home for Me

It really is just wonderful to be home! So much of my personality was shaped at this place, and in this city, 18 years to be exact. Now, of course, there are changes a'plenty, especially in the city. But, my home, and its simple, ole-fashioned warmth and love, it has stood the test of time. And I am learning to appreciate that more and more, and to never take it for granted.

It came to me yesterday, like struck me right smack dab between the eyes! The fact that it is just so nice, and refreshing and good, to come home, to be home, to have a home.

You see, yesterday, Julie and Cherika and I enjoyed lunch and presents and errands together. And it simply made me happy, our trio of so different personalities! It was a time, that we take at the close of each year, to get together again, and be reminded, really, that our friendship is special, and that we love each other.

Then that night, my daddy and I went on a movie date. One of my favorite parts of my trips home:) And as we drove, and enjoyed a really wonderful evening watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my heart again remembered alllll the movies, and friends, and family who have composed 30 years of life with Sabrina. And when you look back over your life, if you are doing it right, you know you can look back with peace, and joy, and love. Acknowledging the difficult parts, but remembering that never did God leave you, and also knowing he has heaped blessing upon blessing in our lives.

And, of course, in true home style. When my daddy and I walked in the door after midnight, there is my jolly, smiling mama, wide awake! And she "encouraged" us to watch some of the Kennedy Center Honors with her (which was pretty amazing I will admit!). And soon she is hopping out the chair, moving and grooving to the songs of her youth, and Aretha Franklin singing the house down.

Yesterday, at so many times, I looked around and sent up quiet prayers of gratitude. Actually, I have been doing that since my break started last week. Gratitude for a reliable car, my sister and her loving husband, aunts/uncles/cousins, travels, quiet, home, my parents, my friends, a New Year and new chances, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, laughter, love......and the list goes on and on an on.

Home for me. In some ways it's my place of peace. It is memories, wrapped in the life, tied with the bows of joy and gladness.

Monday, December 28, 2015

In 2016

I can admit that it feels surreal to be at the time of year to greet a brand new, fresh year! It's also surreal that I have taken time since December 2010 (past posts here), to look ahead to the new year. Oh life, you are both unexpected and amazing! So, let's look ahead to 2016, and what it might have in store....

* Friends and family I know will have babies (the cuteness overload is real hahaha), and begin new relationships, and get engaged, and get married and some might beak-up. But growing families is definitely the theme of life in the 30's.
* People that I know and love will pass away or suffer through illness
. I will also take time for special remembrances of my sweet grandma, in February.
* This is the year to continue to be dedicated to saving more and paying back what I owe. I made such great strides in 2015, and I see myself building on that and that right there is mighty exciting! 
* June will bring fulfillment of some special answered prayers for my wonderful Julie! Wedding here we come:) I am the maid of honor, so there is much fun and planning on the horizon. 
* Staying in Tallahassee (I love my little life here!), yet finding my own place will be part of this upcoming summer. Also, possible transitions at work....time will tell.
* Getting to know someone, dating, relationships, etc. Sigh, it kinda takes courage for my "old-soul" personality to keep on trying in this very modern/hip world, but I will see where this area of life takes me. Be brave girl! Oh yeah, and be patient, that is important too;) 
* Turning 31, and all of the excitement a birthday brings to my world:) 
* With faith, I know the year will be full of growth and countless opportunities to be Christ-like in my words, thoughts, and actions. Focusing on Psalm 51:10, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. I will pray and study and look for the ways this Scripture will manifest itself in my life in 2016. 
Travel, travel, travel! Starting 2016 in St. Augustine, and letting the year unfold with trips to places new and familiar. Already I know I will be going back to D.C. in March, for the Cherry Blossom Festival ( I cannot wait!!). 

For the past 5 (eeeeeek, time flies by!) years I have used the words below to end these posts. And if it's not broke then don't fix it, I say:)
Now with all of that said I will say this.....2016 is a completely unknown entity. Sure, I know some things but they are so tiny compared to what I have no idea about. The key is to hold fast to God, have faith and grace, love my family and friends, and be the very best Sabrina Maude Stewart that I can be.....that should not be too hard ( I am kidding) it will probably take me 365 days to kind of get it right!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fond Memories

It is sometimes my way, to get a little sad over the changes that 2015 has brought to my life. But for the next few days, and as we enter a brand new and sparkly 2016, I would like to change myself.

This is the time for fond memories of great love. My grandma, my loving, funny, sometimes outrageous grandma, she is free from the pain that was a struggle during her last months. And  yet I see her face in my mom's bright smile, and I DEFINITELY see her ways, in my mom's ways. So I am choosing to focus on that. To focus on the fact that she is here in spirit, and that spirit is a lovely thing. And that sometimes, if I slow down and look closely, I see that special spirit in myself.

This time of year is full of all of the fun and festive events that seem even better when you get to share them with friends, family, a boyfriend etc. But that too has changed this year. However, in changing myself, I choose to think about the wonderful, nice, and sweet memories, and then move on to enjoy the present day. In some areas of life, we are called to wait a while, and while it can be increasingly frustrating, in my gut, I know that it is what is right.

So, with a brand new year right around the corner, I keep on smiling and loving and laughing, because somewhere in that combination is the key to savoring the moments.

*I'm off to a family Christmas in Macon, then back to Jacksonville, and St Augustine to ring in the New Year with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Merry, Merry Christmas to everyone:) May your time with family and friends be full of abiding love and fond moments that will become fond memories.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

This Season!

This season makes me smile. Actually, it makes me grin from ear to ear! It is a time to look around and hear and see love abounding. Love of family, love of friends, love of strangers, and love of life. This time between Thanksgiving and New Years, well to me it's the stuff that dreams are made of. A moment in time to really believe in wishes again, to have additional hope that God does hear our pleas and will bring us out of seasons of waiting.

This season makes me joyful, it makes me see each day that I am so blessed, so favored, so chosen, to live this particular life that is mine. I look around and see my precious family, and I am grateful for their support and the "village" of love and care. I see my friends and I am honored to know that these wonderful people care for me and bring laughter and light to my life.

This season, even though it comes at the end of the year, it also feels new. It is the time of cheerful and faithful music on the radio, the chiming bells of holiday giving, the promise of straight-up goodness. And that is something I can always use, just a good, old-fashioned dose of overflowing, amazing goodness!

This season can also be a time of rest. In between a busy social calendar, it is a season for snuggles and hot chocolate. A season for hoodies and blankets and endless, love inspired Christmas movies. The days get darker earlier but the sleep seems more sound. The rest seems more fulfilling as we go to bed with wonder whirling around in our minds, because lets face it, anything is possible at this time of year. Absolutely anything, if you only believe! And yes we teach that to the children, but we need to reteach it to ourselves.

This season has its own special charm. Part, over the top merriment. Part, childish delight. Part, being open to the possibility of spectacular things. 2015, it is time to start saying good-bye. So, for this next month, lets all agree to a simple mantra, "Decide to see the good, Share the good, Choose Love and then Choose to Love More." If we do that, even if just a few brave, hopeful souls can do it, we will make a vast difference in our little circles of influence and living.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

More Gratitude

Week 1 & 2
So, truth be told, I will probably only update my blog on a weekly basis, during this season of thanks. And that is ok:)

Last week, I was reminded to be grateful for life. My father turned 61, and his life and health are a great blessing. I appreciate life, when I see my sister go to Emory and receive wonderful news that her health is on target. That is something we never, never want to take for granted!

The time changed and now I'm waking up super early, but also getting quiet time to bask in the glory of the first breathe of morning and the first smiling, inner prayers for a new day.

Thinking back to last week, a particularly sweet section of gratitude goes out to the other women in my life who care for me like a daughter. Besides, my amazing mama of course. I am thrilled to have the most wonderful array of women who inspire me, share wisdom with me, and show me what compassion, love, and care are all about, when lived out each day. For someone with an old soul like mine, this group of women is SO special! And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they inspire me to embrace all of life, the expected and the unexpected.
Just as a reminder to myself, here are some of the ways that they care and love me
* Letting me come and cook/bake (and sharing great insider tips into my favorite thing)
* Taking me out to lunch/dinner and then letting me ramble on about life (both the ups and the confusing sections)
* The WISDOM! I can't even begin to describe how their combined wisdom has enhanced my life. They are a varied, group, but each woman (so accomplished in her own way) has wonderful past life experiences to share.
* One in particular, just bought me a much desired, monogrammed jacket! But even before that, she checked in on me during a particularly difficult patch of my career, and I will forever be fact I wrote about her here and the power of simple kindness.

I am blessed and work on being a blessing to others!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ready for Gratitude

November 1

Good Morning world:) It's hard to sit still and type, because I am so very excited that we are in November!

This month, as in the past, I will be updating the blog with gratitude posts each day. In this "anything goes" world that we live in, I think it is imperative to slow it down a bit and take time to be thankful and also to share. Because we, "I" can end up sharing negativity far too much. This time of the year allows me to break the cycle and refresh my life with glowing gratitude.

So today, the Lord's Day, and the first day of November 2015.....where shall I start?

I will begin with new life, aka babies. My heart is thankful for all the new babies that are on the way in my family and circle of friends. Little, tiny people who will end up being our hope for a better world.

I have a sweet plethora of pregnant friends. And seeing the excitement and the planning and the joy makes me smile! That right there is something to be thankful for. If you are one of these amazing women, please know that I am praying for you and a healthy pregnancy and delivery. I also add the prayer that these little babies will grow up to know the Lord, and be a light to others.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall '16 Bucket List

I overenjoy lists and the feeling of accomplishment they bring! So, with my favorite season starting today, I am taking a page out of a high-school friends book, and creating a bucket list of my favorite Fall things, and things to try.

I might even create my own, creative/cute hashtag, and join the tech savvy crowd.  Something like,follow me on Facebook and Instagram at #FallBreeStyle.....hahaha, we shall see.

Anyway, here we go....and I am open to other ideas. So feel free to share!

1. Visit a pumpkin patch and purchase  pumpkins (1 traditional and 1 "modern")
2. Host a Fall crafting party (soooo excited!)
3. Visit a cornmaze
4. Take a hayride
5. Bake a pumpkin dessert
6. Go to a Downtown Getdown (Go Noles!)
7. Go to a jazz concert or festival
8. Can we say, FAIR:)
9. Read 2 books (both recommended by my book loving friends)
10. ???? (I'm open to recommendations)

Fall here I am. Ready for this new season and fun times with family and friends:)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Now and Later

Can I start this with a confession? I can...OK, thanks!

My natural, autopilot settings are set on future mode. I am hard wired, way down deep, to always be thinking about the future. Days from now, weeks ahead, months coming up, and even years. It is as natural to me as taking a breath. I am happy however, that at this stage in my life I can recognize it, and feel myself start to shift into "future mode".

Sometimes I go along with it, and sometimes I do get frustrated with myself. In all honesty, I don't want to always be looking ahead. Constantly thinking about more. Sometimes I tire myself out, with the constant swirling of my mind and thoughts. Sometimes it feels like I don't trust, but instead organize and pre-approve plans. Always waiting for everyone to catch up to my rapid fire ways.

Even though Fall is fast approaching, and New Years 2015 is a thing of the past, I do have some goals that I want to work on during this part of the year. Maybe it's the back to school vibe that has me thinking about some self-improvements. And self-improvements are not a bad thing, in fact I find them refreshing in a way.

Of course there are goals; one spiritual, one physical, and one financial. All three are deeply important to me. All three are linked to visions I have of my future and what life could have in store for me next.

In order to reach these goals however, I already know one of the keys. And it's opposite of my natural settings. One key is for me to live day by day and appreciate the present. Great, just great! So my struggle is also connected to my growth and goals....oh life!

But really, I do kind of.. sort of ..maybe.. get it. Life is telling me that in order to grow in some areas, I am going to have to reach and stretch. If I stay doing what I always do, I will get what I have always gotten.

So this is me, trusting the process. This is me, admitting that there will be struggles, but I believe they will be minuscule compared to the victories. This is me saying that I don't have it all figured out, but also that I refuse to give up, when such wonderful things lie ahead. This is me, agreeing that I thought I would have it "together" by now, but maybe just maybe understanding that I am where I need to be now, yet there is still room to grow.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Consistency of Growth

I am really glad that I have this blog. Writing here is my "thing" and the memories and reflections are a pure joy to me. We can forget so many of the precious details in life, we can forget so many of the answered prayers. This blog aids me in remembering and cherishing my wonderful life.

Tonight I sit, and look out the window at my small attempts at gardening. And you know what? I see growth! It really is the best feeling, to see life and know that you played a part of its development. Some of my plants have grown so much that I have had to repot them. Pretty cool!

The thing I have learned about planting is that the growth lies in the consistency. Now each morning I go out back and water my plants. I take a look at their progress, and then go about my day. But, this morning routine is reaping dividends of beautiful growth! I am enjoying the work of my hands...even when I get sweaty and come in smelling like "outside".

Of course my mind draws a connection to the growth of my plants, and any type of growth that we are aiming for in life. It's the consistency, the day in and day out care, that bring forth the rewards. Get rich schemes...nope. way. You really have to be in it for the daily progress. Ready to each day put your hand to the plow and work.

And you don't see the progress at first, it's happening out of sight. But it is happening! That combination of rain, wind, sun, and consistent care. It has been an utter joy to watch my plants begin to grow taller, and vibrant amazing colors to form. I am a proud gardener!

In my life, as I see areas that need growth (finances, health, work, relationships, faith),  I wonder if I am ready to practice consistency. I want to. The inner me is on the path to growth, though the walk sometimes slows to a crawl. I guess I just need to remember that it is a day to day thing. Better financial choices each day. Increased movement everyday. Care for my babies at work Monday-Friday. Appreciating my family and friends and thinking of them from moment to moment. Praying all the time, and reading my Bible everyday.

These will bring growth in my life. These things will refresh me and stretch me and help me to truly be the absolute best me possible.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Walking in the Light

I looked closely in the mirror this morning. And you know what, I saw the sweet answer to a prayer.
Years ago, I prayed to be beautiful, as God sees beauty. As beautiful as a sunrise, or pale crescent moon. I have never been much for makeup and such, but I realized that those things are not the key to beauty. Beauty is your character, your words, how you make people feel.

I definitely feel like 30 has put me on the path towards the woman I am becoming. I have had thoughts and dreams and prayers about the love and family that I want one day. I still am a planner, but I also experience more. Walking in the light, is a Biblical idea, but in the world I think it also can resonate with anyone who is trying to live in such a way that reflects truth and love. I find those things in God, and he is always interested in my heart and soul, not just my smile and shape.

As I type, I am listening to Sailing by Christopher Cross. The song and beat seem to go well with this post.

Well, it's not far down to paradise, at least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me

It's not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me

Sailing takes me away to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

Fantasy, it gets the best of me
When I'm sailing
All caught up in the reverie, every word is a symphony
Won't you believe me?

Sailing takes me away to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

Well it's not far back to sanity, at least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find serenity
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me

Sailing takes me away to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

I am connected closely with my purpose in life. It is at some points natural, and at some points not what I had pictured. But, I can look my natural self in the mirror, I can hear my words contain grace, I can see my life bringing genuine joy to others. I am beautiful! I am learning to walk in the light! Praises!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sunday Morning

"one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity,"
Martin Luther King JR (referring to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings in Atlanta in 1963)

This morning I woke up and after reading more information on new details from the Charleston shootings, my mind started thinking about tomorrow morning...Sunday morning.

You see, the night the shootings happened, when processing such clearly racially motivated hate, with my sister, we both mentioned how this was a modern day move that takes you back to the church bombings during the fight to end segregation. Thus the quote that I used to start. Of course in 2015, the weapon was advanced and deadly destructive, but the motives were alarmingly similar. Just like in the past, this man knew exactly where to go to make his horrible point known. Not into the streets, because with the current situations going on in this country, he might not be heard amidst rioting and looting. He didn't go into the home, where brokenness and confusion seem be louder than unity and commitment. No, he went into the church. Take a minute and let that sink in. It speaks both to the power of the message of God, and to the utter depths of depravity of the shooter. And to be humbly honest, it is really hard to grapple with both of those things, when presented so close together.

Yesterday, the victim's families got time in court to speak to those assembled and a killer. The reports show that many of the messages included forgiveness, repentance, and the power of God to transform a life. That was not the human nature talking, that was the faith, love, hope and Holy Spirit; leading mere mortals to speak and act in a way totally and completely opposite from the way in which their loved ones had been treated. It reminded me again that God calls us to journey with him along a different way, and though you might lose your life, if you are his, you will never lose your "life" (Matthew 16:24-26).

Tomorrow morning is coming though. The first time since the whole country was rocked by vicious and blatant hate (and if you don't see what happened as a hate crime, then we are coming at this from vastly different perspectives) that the faithful will gather to worship God. I am African-American, I am Christian, and I am Southern. So, tomorrow morning I will meet, as is my practice, with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We will sing, and listen, partake of communion, worship, give, and live out the calling of Christ to love deeply. But at the same time, I can't lie and say that I won't cast a brief but suspicious glance around near the doors of the church. I am human, and there is weakness in me, but I know that to not attend tomorrow, or to walk in scared and afraid would give Satan a sense of triumph. Maybe he is thinking even now, maybe I have sounded my message of death and despair so loud, that finally those believers in "the way" will give up, give in, run and hide.

No, this is the time to stand on the "rock" (I Sam 2:2) like never before. To read your Bible, to go to worship, to pray for this wicked, fallen world and the "lost sheep" (Luke 15:1-7) who are in fact being sought by God the Shepard even as I type this. Now is the time to remember that the "harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37). In your own path of life, as you walk with Jesus along the road of faith, you are being called to be light, salt, peace, love, hope, forgiveness, calm, joy, gentleness, and most importantly.... strong in the strength of God, the creator and the ultimate judge of the entire world.

Whew! I  have been trying to get some of these ideas out for days. I am thankful if you made it all the way through these sincere but rambling kind of thoughts.

I still believe in love, I still hold fast to my faith, I still struggle to live in such times as these. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

30 before 30 Part 2

Schools out for summer.....and I can finally get to finishing up my inventory of my 30 before 30 list. I did not get to everything on my list, but it was the effort that counted most, and this list was still one of the most fun things I have ever done!
Goals 11-20

11. take a surprise visit home to see my parents
I planned this one before I turned I will still count it as complete. I went home to Jacksonville for Mother's Day. I knew in my heart that I would make the trip this year as soon as my grandma passed. We enjoyed a mellow and memory filled time. It was sweet and somber, but still very very good!

12. maintain my weight, below a "magic" number  
(Gotta get my motivation back on track)
13. plan a trip just for the sister and I

14. read through the New Testament

I started co-teaching Ladies Bible class on Wednesday night in April, but did not meet this goal. I still want to however!
15. clean out my email ( all 3 accounts)

My email is definitely a bother. One personal account, one junk account, and one work account. All overfull. But I did spend hours on this little project. I unsubscribed to many companies, deleted and deleted til my eyes were blurry. All that and I will for sure need to clean them out again soon....yuck!

16. buy a pedometer and track my steps
My parents got me a Fitbit for my birthday! I love it! I just clip it on each day and the motivation is gives me is excellent!

17. adopt a classroom for a school year 

18. update my scrapbook

This one changed a bit...I started using the Snapfish app and getting free prints. So now I have actual "old-fashioned" photo albums full of amazing memories! 
19. use the scanner I got and really organize old memories, pictures and papers

20. go to a concert
On the Friday before Easter, Kenneth was my last minute date to a gospel concert. We both had a wonderful time! We heard the delightful voices of J Moss, Jessica Reedy, and Mary Mary.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

30 before 30 Part1

I am a few days into this 30th year! Yay!!!
I was going to include pictures for my 30 before 30 goals, but if you are my Facebook friend or follow me on Instagram, then you have seen them already. I posted along the way:)

I have loved my 30 before 30 list and the purposeful life of my 29th year.
Over the next few posts, I will reflect over this list, and how it was so much more than a list.
Also, somewhere along the way, the goal morphed not into getting everything done exactly, but savoring the actual experience of these wonderful accomplishments (both small and large). So here we go....

Goals 1-10
1. start the birthyear with the 29 gifts challenge (Day 1- April 28th 2014)
I did not even start this one. But I will say that I highly recommend the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker. It is a quick read, and the idea of giving to others; giving of our time, talents, resources, etc is inspiring.

2. host a dinner party to welcome in one of the seasons (Fall is my favorite)
As my favorite time of year came to Tallahassee, I had a few friends over one evening for a Fall Party. We had a blast! Snacks, and conversation, and the best part....painting pumpkins! I am a multifaceted type of girl, and I love getting crafty! I would definitely do it again!

3. go on a cruise

I did not get this one done. But, now I have something fun to look forward too in my future! My parent's AARP magazine suggested river cruising through Europe....a girl can dream right?
4. celebrate 30 in a BIG way

I had the BEST time celebrating 30! Movies, getting taken out for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners by wonderful friends and family! There was also shopping for myself, reunions, lazy days, beach trips, gifts, and more. Of course there was my pre-birthday weekend where we painted, enjoyed a fish-fry and bonded more! I would not describe it as glamorous, but my birthday was full of big fun, big laughs, and big contentment all the way around:) 
5. celebrate 30 in a quiet way

I enjoyed treating myself to a birthday gift. It was my way of celebrating 30 in a quiet way. Manicure and pedicure. A few other assorted beauty treats rounded out my day. It was perfect, to sit back and steep myself in quiet and some girly, beauty prep.

6. travel to 5 places that I've never been before

Check, check, and double check! My favorite goal! My travel-bug was satisfied in my 29th year. I am so blessed to have the ability to travel and broaden my horizons, and collect memories along the way. I went to; Niagara Falls, Canada, West Chester, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Falling Waters State Park in Chipley and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.I enjoyed each and every location!

7. sleep under the stars

I really put my mind to this one, but just could not get it done. Especially because in my head, I want to sleep under the stars, but not on the ground!
8. watch a full sunrise and full sunset from the beach

The beauty of this goal makes my soul glow. It was an experience to see the day wake up and then settle in for the night. If you have never done this, I would recommend it as the beauty is untouched and perfect, just as God created it to be.  Also, sharing the sunset and sunrise with Kenneth will always be a special and very fond memory.
9. finish reading Julie and Julia and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

One freeing part of this "project for self" was that I have not been stressed about anything on my list. If I got it done, great, if not, no problem. I am more high strung in real this 29th year has been a sigh of relief as I have used the moments to enjoy. This goal morphed a little, and that is just fine because the spirit of the goal stayed the same...I was reading! I did finish Julie and Julia and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle....but I also finished Outliers. Outliers is so wonderful, one of my favorite books! 

10. cook or bake 24 "new to me" recipes (2 a month hopefully)

This goal is right at the heels of goal 6 above! The new things that I cooked made me happy! I was in the kitchen and loving it! Making myself get out of my comfort zone and trying new recipes was a tasty adventure. I should do it again, just for the plain joy it bought me. 
Here is a list of what I cooked or baked....
Peach beehives (Thanks Connie), oven roasted yellow potatoes, baked peaches served with ice cream, creamy mint Oreo brownies (bake-off at church), apple/pineapple dumpcake (just OK), sweet potato pound-cake (Ah-mazing!), apple pie cookies, copycat Tuscan soup ( boyfriends favorite), cinnamon sugar Chex-Mix (made this one a lot...easy), tortellini lasagna and cheddar biscuits, ham, corn and potato chowder (another favorite), cheesy veggie pasta, hot corn dip, green beans and potatoes (Thanksgiving in Tally), sugar cookies and royal icing (fantastically fun night with my roommate and our guys), Thanksgiving leftover soup, cranberry white chocolate cookies (Christmas in Macon), cinnamon rolls (Christmas in Macon), veggie beef soup, pecan pie cookies, cubed steak (chewy..not my favorite), Mexican chicken bake (feeds an army and delicious), strawberry rice krispies (Valentines 2015), heart inside cupcakes (Valentines 2015, baking with Rhonwyn, awesome!), and brown sugar, bacon little smokies (a fan favorite).

7/10 goals completed....not too shabby!
*Part 2 to come (goals 11-20) *

Monday, April 27, 2015

The work of my hands

 Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.

Lately, I have been craving connections with the past. With how things used to be done and what used to be reliable. Just the old soul in me, feeling left out in this fast paced, ultra modern, yet ultra disconnected (from authentic people) world of ours. I am sure this also has something to do with this new need I have to discover fresh ways to honor my grandma.

There is this gratifying satisfaction of working with my hands. I have known it for what seems like forever. Cooking and baking have been important to me for years and years.  I get in the zone and relaxed as I whip up yummy meals and sugary desserts. I love mixing, and measuring, and preparing. Cutting, tucking, and frosting are favorites as well. I am a girl who cooks from recipes but always adds in a dash or splash extra. I am a girl who cooks from scratch and believes that you really can't ever completely ruin a meal.

The work of my hands, resulting in food that satisfies, that is an instant recipe for happiness in my book. Simple, but not common anymore is this kind of "old-fashioned" kitchen work ethic.

On another side of the coin, I have started a humble, pallet garden! I already love it. Yeah, I tend to jump right into things. But, really I have been observing my mama garden for years now  (her garden grew and flourished after Mel and I left for college). She is a gentle yet through master of her domain in our backyard and the blossoms that grow for her are absolutely beautiful! I have seen the seasons come and go, so I have a sneak peek into the seasons of gardening. I don't have to fret when the leaves drop off and the green turns to brown. If I stay careful and also let nature do its thing, life and Spring will hopefully bloom again and again in my garden. Can you feel how over the top excited I am?

I also really enjoy when my hands work on hand-written cards and other forms of creativity, such as painting. So far I have 4 Sabrina originals gracing my home. Bringing color and form to a blank canvas relaxes me and stretches my mind in all the right ways. There is a creative gene in me that yearns to show itself. Sometimes I give it full and free reign.

The work of my hands is intimate and personal. It is a connection to my sometimes too soft heart and the things that make it beat. The work of my hands is tactile and life-giving. I am focused on the work of these hands and the difference that they make in my little world. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

More Family

My home is quiet now, after a long weekend filled with such fun and family that I can't even begin to describe the goodness.

The grown-up Sabrina continues to see so many things with a depth that the younger me did not comprehend. And that is fine, because that is how life works. Seeking more wisdom that often only comes with time and life. If you do it right, more birthdays, should bring more wisdom. Should, I say...

Anyway, my ideas about family have taken flight over the years. I have lived near and sorta far from my family and felt the independence and the loneliness. For me, I needed to get back closer to the love and stability of the people who know me best. So, I moved back (after much prayer) closer to home, and it has turned out to be just wonderful, and I know that God heard me and answered all of my prayers, both spoken and unspoken. Praises!

This weekend, my biological family, and my Tallahassee family all came together to celebrate my almsot 30th birthday. It was amazing! I am still so content and glowing with happiness. I had many of "my people" together in one place, and we all had a blast! My biological family is a large unit; I have gained an Athens family that I still love dearly from my grad school years; and I have this Tallahassee family that is precious to me in so many ways.

At this point of life, when my journey does not yet encompass some of the milestones of some of my peers, it can sometimes feel like I have gotten behind in the game of life. Meandered down paths that were right for me, but as the clock ticks, maybe costly in other areas. But, I was reminded this weekend that my beautiful, unique, wonderful, blessed life is just exactly what it was meant to be. No changes needed, only the strength to stay humble and happy, content and Christ-like, smiling and true to my own Sabrina self. 

I have always been a girl who loved travel and also loved home. Who loved people and also loved family. Well, I see it and I feel it in my soul that more family, more support, more love, more care; all of that "more" makes for an amazing life! I have an amazing life! To be getting ready for 30, and to be reminded of that fact, is a wondrous thing!

Dear Self,
Always remember this weekend, and these times of great growth and great faithfulness. And as you receive such amazing love, continue to live a life of giving and sharing. That is what really counts!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Assumptions and Protection

Sometimes I wonder about the silence. I wonder as national and local news unfolds, and protests flare up and then back down, I wonder about the hush that seems to come from certain areas.

Are people not interested in the news of unrest? Are people quiet because some news has zero relevance to their lives? Are people unsure of how they feel, unsure of how to even begin to combat such huge problems as prejudice and they choose quiet instead. Maybe quiet is safer....but maybe it is not.

But I also have to remember that quiet people are still thinking. In todays 24 hour news jungle, it is hard to escape the current stories of anger, death, and force. The stories that again and again more recently involve black males and police. Today, I won't go into the unreported stories of gang wars and other crimes that zing back and forth and are killing thousands a year.

I am no expert. I am a 29 year old African American woman. Living in the South. Loving my life.
But I have gone to graduate school and spent time studying social justice. I had to search my own soul many, many times to even begin to try and tackle some of the complexity that lies behind race and prejudice and assumptions. And in life most people are just not going to do that. Who has the time? Who has the passion it takes? Who has the compassion it takes too?

I have had exactly two run ins with police in my life. But you know what, I have worked at schools where my students had run ins with police ALL the TIME! If you have never had an incident, small or large with an upset or angry police then you might not get what I am about to say. But, maybe you will still keep on reading. My two run ins were minor, and I do mean minor. One, an alleged shoplifting accusation during my teens at Walmart, and one a very brief interaction as I was driving in a construction zone. But in both cases I had a fear in me. A fear that the police did not see me as Sabrina Stewart, but rather as "another" young black woman. And all the assumptions that come with that label. Kids but no husband. Attitude but little education. I am neither of these, but when you are in certain groups in this country, and you encounter certain police, there are sadly certain assumptions that are made.

Why I keep wondering, do the recent news stories have people running from police, fighting with police, arguing with police? I could never dare to answer for anyone but I know that if I could feel this small fear, that others have felt far more. What if during a routine stop, the voice that is only supposed to be authoritative, what if it starts asking you demeaning questions, questions that hint that you are "just another punk", "just another man or woman who deserves to be in jail, like the other men and women who look just like you and therefore must be just like you"? What if what is supposed to be protection, you feel is far more than that? Judgement replaced by protection perhaps. And what if the judgement is dead wrong (the wording was completely intentional there)?

The thing is, the time to have these discussions on race and violence is now. It is not later, when you have been stopped for an alleged crime. Now, we have to open our eyes to some truth. Someone has to talk about the fact that there is a generation of young black men who are seeing lives like theirs killed repeatedly by police officers. We don't yet know, how that will play out psychologically. We have to talk about the mothers, daughters, and friends who carry a worry in them that their family member is going to have a run in, and they won't live to tell the tale about what actually happened. Certain families are having difficult conversations all over this country, and those conversations are very rarely crossing over racial and socio-economic lines, so the chasm grows and deepens. The misunderstandings blossom more and more. Confusion and silence reign.

I get scared and I get angry during these cases. Because one person is alive and able to testify and give vivid details of an encounter, able to describe their feelings and their concerns. They get a chance to reel in positive public opinion and support. And the other person, they are silent, because they have been killed...not just injured but KILLED. And no one, no bystander, no video camera, no nothing can speak the entire truth of a dead man.

It's heavy stuff. I feel it stirring up all sorts of emotions in me even as I write. Emotions that are not shared by everyone, even though we so desperately want others to rally together with us for change. But is it possible for a family who looks a certain way and earns a certain amount of money, who has never and will never spend one moment worried that their child will make a mistake and encounter an angry police, let alone come into any contact with the weapon that the police carries; is it possible that, that family and another family who looks a certain way and earns a different amount of money, who has and will continue to worry constantly that their child might not make it home because they made a mistake and encountered an angry police, and came in direct and terrifying contact with the weapon that the police carries; is it possible that both can understand the other? Join together and say somethings are wrong no matter how you look at it? I believe it is possible, but it will be difficult.

Whew! This is one of those times where I just needed to write to get it out. Not to offer solutions, and not to cause unrest. But to clear my head and heart so that I can keep on believing in change and having hope that life will be seen as precious and created and purposeful verses a burden, nuisance and unnecessary.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April April April

April is here. Spring has sprung. Times of refreshing and joy are arriving.

Whew! I am relived to be here during these times. Yesterday, I saw two community groups outside working the earth and building gardens. I loved it! Probably because I am trying really hard to finish Animal Vegetable Miracle. A well-written book of one family and how farming and wanting locally grown food changed their lives. No matter, I can apprecaite the idea that putting our hand to the plow yields results, the circle of crop life if you will.

My mother and so many others are backyard workers, maintaining gardens that are full of the myriad of colors and scents that tell of the Spring. To look over the land in Winter has its own kind of beauty, but that is not the full story. The story bursts forth as week by week the Spring rains and the Winter chill and the Fall planting all work together to bring forth blossoms, flowers and fresh green leaves. Branches straighening and alive again after the cold and dry Winter.

And I appreciate how Spring is here in my personal life as well. Color, life and the results of the previous season. I am smiling because I welcome my 30th birthday this month. I sing joyfully off key as we enter the last nine weeks of school. I imagine sweet summer and enjoy getting creative in the present day.

This month is full of celebrations, dinner and movies, and worshiping God. Parties and prayer groups and welcoming the fun of grown-up life. Family and friends and yummy birthday cake! Days off from work and walking around and being present in this life that is daily a testament to how good and full of grace God is.

April, April, April....I love ya:)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Nights

You don't even know how much you can crave a voice until you know that you won't hear it again this side of eternity.

This is week 3 of me having a tough, sad time on Friday night. It was on a Friday we had the funeral, and I don't memories flood my soul on Friday night for some reason.

The tears are good for me. I always tell my babies at work, that it's OK to cry, and that it's OK to miss someone.....those things mean that you really loved them. And so it is for me, my tears are proof that this heart yearns for my grandma so much. My missing her is a testament to the life that she lived and the devotion she showed her family.

The time will go by. It always does. Life gets loud and busy. Distractions literally land in my lap. But in the quiet of the evening, when things are still. My mind and spirit remember, and they just downright mourn the fact that I don't have any grandparents anymore. In the evenings, on Fridays, I feel lonely, even if I am around other people.

So this Friday night I will face the feelings. Just go ahead and let myself be sad for a while. And in the morning, I will rise to a new day, to a life that is rich in what counts. To sunshine and cool breezes. But tonight I miss my grandma a lot. I would love a hug and to hear "I love you Brina!" and I want to kiss that beautiful face and say "I love you grandma!" and hug her tight and sit and laugh and share life with her.

Friday nights.....sigh....Friday nights....

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Planning for a 30th Birthday

To me it is wonderful that I enjoy celebrating my birthday all month. I claim April as a month of grand things. Friends, gatherings, family, get-togethers, laughter, desserts, gifts, beautiful moments. My birthday month!

When my grandma passed, I went back and forth about my birth month. Is it OK to be truly happy again, so soon after my loss? Is is selfish, to celebrate the start of a special year, when in my quiet times, I still miss my grandma so much. My new friends at church were wise though...."Did your grandma love life?" Yes for sure! She was a lively lady! "Then, she would want you to enjoy and have a wonderful birthday!"

So, I am going to keep with plans to have a fabulous, Sabrina-style April. Welcoming 30 in many ways. *I SO want to go on a big trip like so many of my friends. But this is not the time financially. Maybe by the Fall? Beautiful pictures of crystal clear, bright blue water have me thinking island time would be just grand! OR Next Spring getting back to DC and enjoying the Cherry Blossom Festival!*

Ok, time to exit dreamland;)
Plans so far for a splendid birth month....
*Fish-fry lunch and FSU circus
*Book Club-Birthday Edition
*Prayer Group
*Canvas and Cupcakes
*Favorite Things Party

Sunday, March 1, 2015

To Know Her was to Love Her

My goodness what a time this has been.
I am back home and taking the evening to breathe and just be.

My grandma passed away peacefully on February 21st.
Her life was celebrated beautifully on February 28th.

The time between was filled with every single emotion conceivable.  Joy as I laughed at some of the hilarious things that "ma" had said during the years. Heartbreak when memories invaded and I realized again, that I won't get a chance to hear her voice calling me "Brina".

For such a busy and heavy week, everything boiled down to the title of this post....
To know Her was to Love Her.
So simple.
So perfect.
So her.

The church and her home were filled to the brim with those who knew what it was to be loved by Laura Bernice Miles. I can attest, to 29 years of that love. It was magnificent. Light and happy and comforting and just right. She loved with arms wide open, with a heart that saw all people and welcomed them in. She loved so much that it was contagious. My own mama is overflowing with love, and that is because she was loved by her mother. I love, because I was loved and taught love daily by my mother and grandmother.

That is good stuff right there, actually the very best kind of legacy. I am so proud of the down home lovin' that is alive within me. So very proud, that I am a woman that my grandma would be proud of. So thankful, for her and her life and the sweet memories that will forever be mine.

My grandma will forever live in me, she will appear as I extend and enjoy hospitality with others. She will appreciate when I love my family and cherish them. She will smile as I enjoy a good, gut-deep laugh.

To know her was to Love Her. To be Loved by her was to be truly Known. That peaceful thought will be my comfort. That happy, sincere smile will be my motivation. Seeing her again in Heaven one day will be my hope.

Farewell sweet grandma, I love you with all of my heart. I always have and I always will.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Morning with Sabrina

I don't even fight it anymore. No matter what time I go to bed on Friday. I am up before 8 on Saturday. And I mean wide awake, can't stay in bed, "up".

My Winter Saturdays always look a little different, but in general they are peaceful....and I love that!
Waking up early in prayer and meditation, paves the way for the start of an incredible day. Literally, no one but my daddy wants calls or texts, early on Saturday. So prayer, and blogging and writing in my journal allow me to get some communication time. I am a big communicator, I know you probably had not noticed that:)

A cup of tea is great for me! My mama started me on fruit flavored hot tea back in highschool....and years later it is my "thing". I can't get it together every morning...but Saturday...always!

I usually piddle around for a while, try to find the most comfortable outfit in my closet, then head to the grocery store. I fill up the car, and all of those small Saturday errands. And then it's like 10:00 and I am home and ready for a nap! I know, I know! It does not even make sense to people. Why not sleep in and then just power through the day? At this point it is a habit, and my quiet way of starting up for Saturday works for me.

If I am being super productive, I get some housework done. Laundry and such.
I love Saturday mornings, getting to let the mind wander and dream. Do you have any time where it is so quiet and free that your mind can dream? It's glorious! Dreaming is not just for children, and my dreams and hopes and wishes are some beautiful, unique things.
Have a most wonderful Saturday!
Time Stamp: 8:17 (see I told ya!)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Last day of January/Start of new Patterns

Never has the end of January felt so mature.
The 31 days of January 2015 were the soil to plant seeds for this entire year.
I was purposeful....and that is some very good news.

Purposeful in what you might want to know? I will share some areas that were carefully planted in the start of this year. I can't wait to check back in throughout 2015 to see what the harvest yields.

I am SO proud of this one, because it was and will not be easy. For a woman, who has so many things together, I have been unhappy with my financial situation for a while. Knowing you need to change, and actually making changes however are two different things. I knew though, that I did not need to go into 30 with money woes and concerns about debt. So big changes are on the way. Dave Ramsey, and maturity, and future hopes, and prayer are my supports. My taxes are filed, I am ready (on paper) for February's budget, and my mind and spirit are set on changes. My simple prayer is that God change my behavior with money.

I am accepting help along the way at work. I am digging in and working hard. I have a once a week Practicum student, who is actually a friend from my stint at UGA! Small world! I am working with a woman who is getting her Masters online, by providing experience with lesson planning etc. I finished my course to have a school counseling intern one day. A few small clouds have come across the horizon, but my kiddies are always worth it. I have been amazingly humbled by the recommendation letters written about my work. My simple prayer is that God guide me, the many Title 1 schools, my two former schools and really watch out for the state of education in my home-state.

Growing in faith, keeping my inner spiritual light shining. Those things don't happen if you lose focus. I have made mistakes a'plenty, but I have asked for great and wide and deep forgiveness. Praise God for his love and his plan for me! Teaching the Ladies' Wednesday Bible class for 3 weeks was refreshing for my spirit. It was a time to get quiet, study, learn, listen and share. I feel lighter and more focused on "heavenly pursuits". I am meeting more and more truly wonderful people, at my church home of Meridian Woods Church of Christ. Many remind me of the love of my church home back in Jax, and also in Athens. My goal for this entire year and my constant prayer, is to love the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength. And in that comes the idea of constantly becoming a better Sabrina. The sacrifice of my Savior is worth any small changes in me, that is for sure!

30 before 30 list-
Fun, exciting, best idea ever! I love, love my 30 before 30 list. It has added experiences, goals, and vibrancy to this 29th year. I can't even tell you how much I am enjoying this list of mine. Yayyyy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

This year will bring on 30

Everywhere I look, friends and acquaintances are turning 30, or already have at some point in the last few months.

I think it is a pretty great thing. A life milestone, that is a privilege, a responsibility and yet can still be packed with excitement and fun! 

I have seen the dread, the method of casual ignoring, the despondency, the happiness, and in my case the mounting enthusiasm that turning 30 can bring.

My 20's were very good years. A LOT of things happened to me and for me and around me and near me in my 20's; that shaped me into the woman that I am at this moment. A whirlwind of lessons that have stuck, and have given me backbone and hope, over time. And please know that my 20's showed me great grief and great joy. Both, life is about both. Both will come to you. Be a survivor, it is worth it!

And you know what my secret to 30 is, actually my secret to my 30's? Lean in close, you are not going to want to miss this....My secret is that going into my 30's I have a bold hope for all of the best that life can offer. Why in the world not? I am going into these years with my expectations high, I am going in still believing in dreams, and passion and joy and fulfillment. I am seeing my 30's as a time to share of myself, and also build for myself. That combination should work well.

There is a wisdom that this "old soul" has acquired and so there are some things I know.
I know that my faith is paramount, and no matter what 30 holds, if it does not bring me closer to God and help me be more faithful in my walk, then I don't want it. It is as simple and as difficult as that. Life will bring me back to this point again and again.

I know that feelings are important but that they are transient and fleeting. In my 30's I want a life that builds on my total character, not just one that feels "good". There is more to life than feeling "good" and I want that more, though I am sure it will come at a price.

I know that there is a better Sabrina inside me. In my 30's, if I can continue to be the authentic Sabrina, smiling yet a deep-thinker; quirky yet kind; praying yet pushing ahead. If, I can be those things and so much more, well then my 30's and I should get along just fine. Also, the better Sabrina will have to be honest with herself. If you can't be honest about the true starting line, well then you are not going to win the race. So, seeing my spiritual, familial, financial, health, and personal life as they are right now, and knowing that my 30's will bring growth; I start moving ahead. Baby steps sometimes and maybe leaps sometimes, but progress, I look toward progress.

Enough for now I think, but the well is not dry on this topic of turning 30. Not at all.