Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Everyting Natural
Juice Bar and Eatery        

Owner: Shawn A. Wray
Phone: 706.506.6863

Monday - Thursday  9:00-7:30
Fridays 9:00 - 2:00
Saturdays - Sundays Closed

Serving: Fruit and Vegetable Juices, Wheatgrass Juices, Bottled Beverages, Spicy Baked Patties

Check them out:

We have so many eat-out options in Calhoun.  Unfortunately, we often find ourselves sitting down to a large, calorie packed meal, which isn’t always the friendliest option for our bodies.  There were many, many days when I found myself wishing for a healthier snack or meal option, away from home.
Luckily for the Calhoun area, we now have a Juice Bar.  And luckily for me, it’s only a two block walk from my morning workout over at Crossfit Trackside.


There are several difference juice options on the menu, it was difficult to choose... so I'll be going back to try another one soon.
I walked in around 9:30am, and had my freshly made juice shortly after.  I decided on the My Sweet Darling, with apple, pineapple, and ginger; I enjoyed the fresh, gingery taste.

I was also lucky enough to grab a spinach spicy baked patty; the delicious smell hit me when I walked in the door and I was not disappointed. It was crispy and the temperature was perfectly hot, unlike so many luke-warm convenience foods. I know I will be craving these especially when the cooler weather hits. If you are a vegetarian, be aware they serve 2 spicy baked patty options for you: the spinach or the soya (tofu).  

We stood and visited with the owner Shawn for awhile; he’s a great guy who is easy to converse with.  It’s exciting to meet someone who is living out their dream, so stop by the next time you are in old Calhoun, say hello, and try out some menu items.

Interested in knowing more about what types of juices and food they serve? Visit their webpage at  to check out the menu options.
Check out some more reviews here.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When You Don't Know the Plan

You’ve heard it before: God works in mysterious ways.  We’ve all heard our fair share of amazing stories of God’s works from friends and family; and thanks to social media, we get to hear the stories of total strangers!  

The thing is, we often have trouble following along with how God works, and what His plans for us are.  Especially when things don’t go the way we expect, or we experience a significant change in our lives: a life-altering change.

Our family has experienced one of those life-altering changes recently, and it’s affecting the way we view our future days.  From my own experiences, I know that too much comfort can draw us away from God.  When we know we have good health, that we are financially secure, that there is a roof over our head and food in the kitchen, and life is moving along without any major dilemmas, we kind of let God fall to the side.  I’m guilty of this. Even worse, I see it as it’s happening, but I still don’t put nearly as much effort into my quiet time with Him as I want to or should.  We become so comfortable and sure of ourselves and we get so wrapped up in the daily noise that we forget how much we need Him!

Right now, I’m thankful to Him for this reminder of my need for Him.  Two weeks ago, let’s just say I was not feeling so thankful.  I was hurt and confused.  Even as recent as the past few days, I’ve been sad, depressed, short tempered, and impatient. Not exactly the “light” God calls us to be.  With this life-change, this shifting of our future view, came many new questions and concerns.  So much uncertainty.  Me asking over and over again: “God, what is your plan here?”

IMG_1764.JPGThis morning I woke up, in a similar mood as mentioned above.  My husband and I got the children up, dressed, fed, lunches packed, and off to school.  He headed off to the gym with our youngest, but today I stayed behind.  It was time for me to stop asking questions, and start trusting God with our situation.  I grabbed my bible and my notebook where I record my prayers, thoughts, verses and notes from Sunday messages and small group meetings.  Before I opened my bible, I said the little prayer I always say: “Lord, show me what you need me to know today.  Help me read these words you’ve left for me and give me the wisdom to understand you.” As I opened up my bible, the pages slipped away, leaving the cover open.  There, tucked away and forgotten in my troubles, lay this card:

The words printed on the front spoke to my heart this morning.  

“Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, don’t lean on your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”
                          - Proverbs 3:5-6

ALL your heart, not your head, not just a piece of your heart, but ALL of it!  Acknowlege Him in ALL your ways; not just when you are happy, but when you are sad, disappointed, angry, joyful, or even devoid of emotion. Whether you are rich or poor, healthy or sick, busy or bored, acknowledge Him!

This card was sent to me from a dear group of bible study friends in Pennsylvania that I spent a short time with. I hardly knew them but love them greatly and still pray for them.  Last August, my family moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia for my husbands work, not knowing anyone in Georgia.  After we moved to Georgia, I received this note from the study group, filled with encouragement and love.  Their words picked up my homesick heart, and I tucked the card away in my bible, not knowing the much needed encouragement it would bring me many months later.

I read this verse several times, letting its meaning wash over me.  

It doesn’t matter what the future holds, let alone next week.  God tells us to trust in Him.  
Need a clean bill of health? Trust Him.  
Need a financial income? Trust Him.
Need peace in a world that cannot promise you peace? TRUST HIM!

I’m working through a Kasey Van Norman study with my Monday night ladies group and last night, Kasey talked about how it’s during the times of ease and prosperity that we tend to “drift” from God. It’s not God who moved, it’s us.  We still have our moments of thankfulness and recognizing blessings. But blessings are temporary and we take them for granted.  God gives and he takes away. And when the rough times come, we learn to lean on Him and spend more of our day thinking on Him and spending more time with Him.  When we are troubled, there is no better way to find peace than in His presence.  

I’m discovering that it’s often during times of trouble that God shows us the greatest blessings, and that’s the people around us.  He’s given us a family here in Georgia, where a year ago we knew no one.  During a time of uncertainty, we’ve been blessed with encouragement, prayers, meals, fellowship, and ways to continue our everyday activities to alleviate stress and keep our bodies healthy and active.  So many blessings to be truly thankful for.  

“God is good, and He cannot be anything else.”  -Joyce Meyer

Blessings to you.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Reflections on the Past Year

Taking time to reflect is beneficial for us all.

We tend to see things in a different light, or perspective, once time has been allowed to pass between events.  We might observe changes that have happened for the better, or we might catch ourselves falling into bad habits that we need to address.  Reflecting gives us the opportunity to see how far we have (or in some cases haven’t) come.  I enjoyed looking over past posts on this blog, as it reminds me of who I was in the past and some ways that I have changed.  I hope to pick up blogging once more in the next few weeks.

Our family is coming up on the one year anniversary of our moving from Pennsylvania to Georgia.  One year since our finances were drained and we weren’t sure where the next paycheck was coming from and how we would pay the next round of bills. A year since my husband received notice that he’d be flying down to Atlanta for an interview. A year since he was offered that position; that he moved down and found us a perfectly suited home so we might join him three weeks later.  Perfectly suited in that we were able to lease-to-own, that it was within a thirty minute drive from my husbands work, and that we were allowed our dog Toby.  Looking back, I see finding this home as nothing short of a miracle.  Some may not think it a big deal, but have them try to find a place for lease/rent that will allow for a 70lb american bull terrier.  Leaving our Toby behind was not an option I was willing to consider.  

At that time, the most affordable option to move our stuff from Pennsylvania to Georgia was for us to hold a moving truck packing party (love to our family and church family for loving on us this way) and for my husband to drive the truck down to Georgia, while I followed with our children in the family van.  

In the year prior to our move, I began pursuing the idea of minimalism and what that meant for a family of five. So I like to think that we had a significantly less amount of “stuff” to pack up and move, thereby making the whole affair easier than it would have been.  We also  made several donation runs to the local thrift shop and filled a dumpster in the weeks prior to our movel.  Spoiler: we still had a ton of stuff to pack up and move.  

Upon our arrival in Georgia, as with the packing, the unpacking was pretty much my responsibility.  Some things were unpacked and popped directly into our donation box.  Other stuff not placed for use within our home was  immediately shuffled up to the attic.  I’m currently mentally preparing for a good decluttering session of the attic storage. I’m continuing to pursue what minimalism looks like for a family with five children.

Having made the move to a slightly smaller home, and having less stuff, has contributed to the ease in maintaining this home, when compared to the last.  I find I have to spend very little time cleaning due to the setup and layout of the home.  As it’s said: a place for everything, and everything in its place.  I feel more at peace and able to relax when everything is in order. I have more time to do the things that bring me joy: play with the children, read, write, walk Toby, and spend quiet time with my Heavenly Father.

We found a church where we feel connected.  Ironicallly, it was the first church we attended down here as a family. We attended a few more services in other churches, but felt ourselves being pulled back to the first church we visited. The childrens programming is wonderful, and the messages - I don’t know how - often feel like they were meant specifically for me to hear (note: sometimes the truth can hurt, but we can make the choice to learn and grow).  I found a ladies group that meets weekly, where I can go and connect with other women and support each other and learn about God’s plan for us. We found a small group that meets weekly, where my husband and I go to connect with other couples and discuss God.

My husband and I joined a Crossfit gym, and we love everything about it.  Everyone needs an environment where they are able to encourage and find encouragement in others. Other benefits: new muscles!! more energy!! doing cool things (like running for longer than one minute, push ups, and pull ups!) that I couldn’t do a year ago!!  

My husband and I completed our state training in January, and submitted the last of the application paperwork to become foster parents. In March, we welcomed two brothers into our home.  It continues to be an adjustment for everyone involved, but we are very thankful to have the support of friends and our church family; particularly of those involved in the Fostering Hope program at our church. This was a new program to our church and as new foster parents, we didn’t know what a huge blessing it would be to our growing family.  God’s timing is the best timing.

This past year has brought many changes for us: many blessings, many struggles, some of those struggles resulted in blessing!  I’m excited to think of what the Lord might have in store for us all in the upcoming year.  

Blessings to you.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Image result for children walking away

For many years now, since  I was a young child and still in school, I have thought about adoption, perhaps because my sister is adopted.  I knew I wanted many children, and I thought to myself that since there were so many children in the world who needed a family, I would bring one into mine.

Jump ahead several years later; I find myself married with three biological children and a dog.  We’re living in a different state, away from my rather large and close-knit family and a church family where I found so much support and love throughout my life.  And I’ve found that my desire to adopt is just as strong as ever.  It’s also evolved, and I feel as though God is calling me into the world of foster parenting.  Perhaps this is how God intends to bring us a child or children for adoption.  There are many times when I feel like our family is not yet complete, like there is a space for someone more.  It’s gotten to the point that when we sit down to meals as a family, and I see the empty chairs we have left around the table. I see an empty bedroom that could be a safe place to a child who needs it.  I don’t know who this child is, or who these children are, but I’m already praying for them throughout the day.  They are on my mind as much as my very own children.  

We’ve gone through a good bit of the preparation process in order to become approved for housing fostering children. Currently, we’re gearing up for the second portion of our home study.  I know that within the next month or two, if approved, we will begin receiving calls from our resource officer, letting us know there is a child that needs to be placed and asking if we can take them in.  

I have to say I’ve had doubts through this process.  Doubts that have come in the form of comments that people have made to me: “Why would you want more children when you already have three?” and “You already have your hands so full!”.  Doubts that pop into my head when it’s been a rough day with my own three children and I wonder if it’s fair to any of them to bring more children into the picture.  There are evenings where I am mentally or emotionally exhausted and about all I am good for is popping a movie into the projector and declaring it a “family movie night” with popcorn and pillows and blankets all over the living room.

It was a few weeks ago that I was reminded through a bible study that the Enemy loves to cast doubt.  So now that I know where the doubt is coming from, I don’t worry when it comes up.  I know there will be rough days. There were rough days before kids, and I had them with only one child in the house.  There were rough days with two, and we still have them with three.  There will be rough days, but there will be wonderful days as well.  There will be those moments where I wish time would stop and we could stay suspended in the joy and peace we are experiencing within our little circus.  And on the days where I don’t feel like I am enough; when I find I need encouragement, there are verses that remind me that I am weak, but there is someone who strong for me.

2 Corinthians 12:9
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  

And my favorite: 1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world, and the despised things -and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  

Last week as we were completing a round of paperwork together, my husband asked me: “Are you excited that we are getting close to having foster kids in our home?”  My answer was immediate, excited was definitely the wrong word.  Am I excited for a child to be taken away from their family? To be placed in a strange new environment where nothing is familiar and not even the food tastes the same?  Definitely not.

But I am thankful.  Thankful that we are blessed with a home where there is space for another child or two.  That we can be a safe place for these children until they are able to be reunited with their biological families.  Thankful for this opportunity to be a light, not just to these children but to their families as well.  Thankful that God has been meaningfully placing people into our life here in GA and providing us with a village and support system.  

And I am at peace, because I feel like I am finally answering a call that God has placed in my heart all these years.  Please pray that God would use our family to reach out to these children.  That our home will be a safe place for them, and that they would feel the level of peace, the hope, and the love that only God can give.  

Blessings to you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Giving Dreams Life

Last night, I have the wonderful experience of attending a Pajama Party for mothers and daughters.  Not having attended a public pajama party before, I didn’t have much idea of what to expect, other than that hopefully, I wouldn’t be the only one sporting pajamas!

Even with the higher expectations, I would not have been disappointed.  At the check-in we received our door prize tickets and the name sticker of a famous woman on our back, (complete with a short description). The purpose of the game was to ask other women yes or no questions in the task of determining the name on our back.  The name could have been political, biblical, real or fictional, and from anywhere in the world.  If you wore your slippers, this was also the time to register to participate in the “Slipper Promenade and Contest”.  The five potential winner categories included the cutest, the best overall, the most vintage, the most glamorous, and the funniest.  

There was a dinner of pizzas, chips, and large veggie trays.  Later on, there were fresh baked cookies, popcorn, and an ice cream bar.  Activity tables were set up to move freely between: a manicure station, a game table, and a coloring area.  There was a beautiful, large guild picture frame suspended in the air, along with a table of silly accessories and props that made for an incredible photo booth.  Volunteers signed up to play - and entertain the rest of the group - by competing in minute-to-win-it type games.  The open environment even allowed for people to remain at their table and simply enjoy fellowshipping with one another.  The evening concluded with the distribution of door prizes.

It was a fantastic evening, which I enjoyed greatly.  The highlight of the evening, at least for me, was the speaker, Carol Cool.  Carol is the type of speaker that is able to get her meaningful point across, without taking forever to say it or needing to supplement her talk with useless information.  Any person, myself included, who struggles with a shorter-type attention span, can appreciate this!  She is engaging, down to earth, honest, and she has common sense (a characteristic I highly value in a speaker).  Best of all, she provides the right kind of encouragement that we need to continue living a life serving God, no matter what life circumstances one may currently be experiencing.

As followers of Christ, we know that living our lives to serve God doesn’t necessarily mean dropping everything, signing up to become a missionary, and moving to a foreign country.  We can allow His light to shine through whatever our current calling happens to be; whether it is staying home with children, ringing up customers at a check out, making sales calls, or sitting in a corner office and managing a company!  

On this night, Carol began to speak about dreams; the aspirations for our lives. She talked about those dreams we currently entertain. She touched on those we have had in the past which have since died or become buried due to fears of disappointment or disapproval.  She presented two fantastic questions to get us thinking:

  1. What would you do if money was no object?
  2. What would you do if you were guaranteed not to fail?

As I considered these questions, I wondered, what do dreams have to do with serving God?  Aren’t dreams sort of selfish?  We have dream houses, dream cars, dream jobs, dream shoe closets, our Pinterest pages; all those things that we want, but don’t necessarily need. Goodness, I struggled to remember my dreams; not having thought about them or shared them with anyone in so long. Real life has taken precedence since my dreaming days.

As Carol talked about how dreams sometimes die or sometimes become buried, she shared how the dreams that God gives us keep making an appearance; they keep coming back.  She used the beautiful phrase “God Given Dreams” and a secret door in my mind was opened and I was able to make a connection.  My family.  I am living one of my dreams in raising my family!  I have spend so much time and effort and energy into raising my children and meeting the needs of a family that I had completely overlooked the fact that I was living my dream.  It’s more than just raising a family; along with my husband, my dream is to see my children grow up seeking a relationship with Jesus. Carol explained how with God given dreams, God provides whatever we need.  My family is blessed with a large extended Christian family and a wide circle of friends who love Jesus; God has provided the proverbial village that it takes to raise a child.  I have faith that my husband and I have been given what we need, and will be given whatever we need in the future, to do our part in raising our children to follow Jesus.

Carol helped me to remember another dream that I’ve had, that also tends to get lost in the daily business of life: the dream to encourage and help people be at their best.  To help them change their life for the better and to encourage them in their relationship with God. To inspire them to confirm the call God has on their life so that they may perform great deeds in the eyes of the Lord.  

It’s a big dream, and we all know that dreams don’t come easy.  They don’t happen overnight, sometimes taking years or a lifetime to achieve.  I realize that I may very well never see any sort of final results for this particular dream during my life on earth.  I feel like I’m still waiting on the Lord to show me how he wants me to take on this task.  Will it be through the simple daily interactions I’m currently experiencing? Will it be through this blog on which I feel led to compose the occasional entry?  Will it be through the Friday night gathering my husband and I dream about hosting at our home every week, if only we could find a solution to the lack of car parking spaces?

Or will be it be something even more amazing and unbelievable to me, so much so that I can’t possibly imagine it?  Who knows? God is already leading me into new situations that I would normally avoid.

I’m not a public speaker: crowds make me nervous, sometimes I feel faint, I don’t like being the focus of attention, I don’t have great ideas to speak about or keen insight to share, but I’ve already felt led by Him to speak to our youth at church twice now!  I don’t have much in the way of advice or ideas or interesting thoughts, but I’ve felt led at times to write a book about what God has taught me through daily life with my family, particularly the God lessons I've learned from my children.  These are ideas outside my comfort zone, but I remember Phillipians 4:13 : I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  When I find myself thinking “Lord, why me? Surely you want someone who is well spoken or clever to do this task!” And he directs me right to 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (see below).  It’s my favorite verse to remember when I think about God calling us to do his work.

A New Design.jpg

That’s the wonderful thing about following God’s calling.  We become less and he becomes more.  It’s not so much “what I have to say”, as “what God has to say”.  Knowing this helps me to trust in Him, and to give it all to Him.

What are your “God Given Dreams”, as Carol so adequately phrased.  What has God been calling you to do? How can you begin to allow God to work through you? What steps can you take to see that His will is done? God has a plan for you; and it’s you that he has chosen - above everyone else- to see that it is done in accordance to his will.  

To visit Carol’s website, click on her name above or visit

Forever in Him.

Monday, February 8, 2016

WHY God??? (Cue the whiny voice)

A conversation with my daughter the other evening. (We call her Sissy, short for sister.)

Me: Sissy, turn off the ipad please.
Me: (Louder) Sissy, turn off the ipad.
Sissy: Why?
Me: Because it’s time for us to get ready to get in the car.
Sissy: What?
Me: It’s time for us to leave, now please turn it off! (Yes, my voice is already raised)
Sissy: WHY? (Yes, she’s whining at this point.)
Me: Because we need to leave! You cannot bring it along. Turn it off please!
Sissy: Ohhh….WHY? (Whining and dragging her feet as she hands the ipad to me.)

Then I feel the Holy Spirit kick in.  And I KNOW (don’t ask me how, I just know) that God is up there laughing at me.  Because He knows I’m finally getting the message.

How often, when we hear God’s desires, do we ask “why”?  How often, do we drag our feet and whine before/while doing His will?

I had the amazing, fulfilling, and refreshing experience of attending the IF:Gathering this weekend.  If you don’t know about IF, I highly recommend you look into it.  Women of Christ, gathering together, to praise our Lord.  Their mission statement: We exist to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.  I can promise you will feel the Holy Spirit moving.  God has wonderful plans set in motion.  

As I sat there for the broadcast Friday evening and Saturday, I was introduced to a new world of speakers, authors, and women in my church I hadn’t had the chance of meeting until then.  A few of them shared their backgrounds.  And they were full of what I would consider big, miraculous details.  Trials.  Rough backgrounds. Broken relationships that healed. God was so apparent in their stories.  But I didn’t share.  Because my story wasn’t as “full” as theirs were.  I didn’t have any God stories to share, because for the 15 years following my baptism, I had put God on the back burner.  

I had accepted Jesus at a Christian wilderness summer camp when I was 14.  I was baptised the next summer by anointing with water.  And then I went on with life as I knew it: high school, babysitting, college.  I was surrounded with Christians of all denominations; wonderful, caring people who love the Lord.  A strong family that put God first.  But I personally failed to realize what a relationship with Christ meant.  I didn’t spend time praying (except for the recited “God is great” at meal and the evening “Thank you God for today” habit)  My involvement with the church (youth, children’s choir, worship committee) was all external - nothing was changing inside of me.  

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Even though I was baptized, my mindset was still that of the world.  I had asked Jesus into my heart, but I failed on following through with what that meant- nurturing that relationship with Him! I worried about how I dressed, fussed over make-up and hair and the body God gifted me, tried to be “cool”, and attempted to box myself into one social group.  The result was something of an identity crisis.  I didn’t know where I fit.  I didn’t know who I was.  A real life nightmare is feeling like you don’t belong anywhere.  

Driving home from the IF:Gathering, I spoke with God.  I know every story is important, but mine seems so much “less”, because I hadn’t pursued that personal relationship with Christ. For 15 years, I’d basically ignored all the wonderful gifts He had given me; that He wants to give each of us.

Then He showed me: the GOOD NEWS is that through His grace, I woke up.  While I had put Jesus on that back burner, he had never left me, and He still loved me just as much as ever. And I feel like He wakes me up a little more whenever I spend time in HIS WORD.  And I feel his Holy Spirit moving when I spent time in PRAYER with Him.  And I feel His love for us.  The best part; I have an identity.  I KNOW who I am.  I am His.  I am a child of God.  And there is nothing in the world that even comes close to knowing Him on a personal level.  This was my story.  My story is now HIS story.  

Back to that conversation I had with my daughter and how I relate it to us dragging our feet, whining, and the will of God.  Sissy hit me with the "lesson" and the Holy Spirit hit me with “share the story”.  (See photo below)


I don’t understand why, but I felt overly compelled to share this story with our youth group.  It would be my second time speaking to them in the year I’ve worked with them.  

Why Lord? Why?  
You made me; you know better than anyone
that I cannot bear
to stand in front of a group of people,
let alone speak to a group
for any length of time.

I was able to drag my feet for a good 8 hours or so… then I gave in.  Holy spirit 2, Mandy 0.  Well, that’s not true… it’s more like Holy Spirit , Mandy 0.  But that’s okay; if I want a relationship with God, I’ve got to be willing to do His will.  

Mark 3:35 “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

I am NOT a SPEAKER, but in GOD’S NAME I can DO THIS.  And in GOD’S NAME, you can do what He is calling you to do.

1 Corinthians 3:16
“Don’t you know that you yourselves
are God’s temple
and that God’s spirit lives in you?”

1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  
He chose the lowly things of this world
and the despised things
and the things that are not-
to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him.

Verse 31
Let Him who boasts, boast in the Lord.

I’m praying that in sharing this story, the Holy Spirit speaks to you. That, if you are hurting, you run to Jesus for comfort.  And that if you are struggling, you give it to God and trust in His strength and will.

Forever in Him.
Amen. Amen.