The Lord Gives and Takes Away

The Lord Gives and Takes Away

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.

This phrase causes me to sing for joy when life is happy, easy, and pleasurable.

This phrase causes me to mourn when life is sad, difficult, and anxious.

I easily grasp the concept when I’m feeling positive; the Lord has given me my family, the things I own, the places I go, and the people I meet.

I grudgingly get what it means when I’m feeling upset; the Lord has taken my grandparents, my pets, the things I used to own, the people I used to know.

I’m happy to hear it whispered on the wind when the blessings in my life far outweigh the negativity around me.

But I’m haunted by it when something stressful is the biggest part of my life, for I slowly begin to blame the Lord for taking my contentment, and for stealing my joy.

This isn’t the mindset I desire to have.

… for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike]. {Matthew 5:45}

He both showers me with His blessings and takes the things He has given me, all to draw me closer to Himself … and that is reason enough for me to put all of my faith in Him. He is worthy of my trust, for I learn to thank Him for what I have, and to leave what I don’t have anymore, completely in His hands.

He both blesses me and removes things from my life to teach me what I could not have learned through that joy, and through that pain.

I don’t have different relatives anymore due to death and estrangement; I have lost three pets to sickness; I have lost things I once loved to thieves; and I have lost friends to depression.

But God doesn’t take from my life to watch me suffer, or to see how I’ll respond to negative situations; He loves me too much for that – and it’s the same for you.

In His infinite knowledge, He knows that each and every thing that has impacted my life in a negative way has brought about more blessings than pain. They did hurt me for a while, but the blessings they reaped were far more abundant than the sorrow I felt in those earlier days.

It is definitely not easy to understand why He allows different things into our lives, but with the reminder that He works everything out for our good, I am content to leave my life and everything I have in His hands, for they are much safer there than in my own.

— Maggie

Visit the ‘His Child‘ category on my blog for more spiritual inspiration.

SBB – Prayers for Sugar

SBB – Prayers for Sugar

Please take a moment to visit this blog post. My sweet friend’s dog is very sick, and it would bless me if you could pray for Sugar, as well as for my friend, Shannon, and her family. ❤

Trail of Lights

Hello everyone.

Today, my goal is not to bust Sunday blues, but to remember a little dog who busted so many of my blues, every day, for the last 7 years.

Sugar Sweetheart Morris came to the Morris household in 2010.  She was the perfect dog for our family.  She was gentle, quiet, sweet, hungry, quirky, occasionally grumpy, but always faithful.  She loved baths, walks, performing in obedience school, eating people food, sleeping on my bed, and meeting new people.

Yesterday, my family found out she has anemia, and a tumor in her spleen.

As we are still trying to decide whether to attempt surgery on a +9-10 year old dog, or let her pass away naturally, or euthanize, I would ask that you remember us in your prayers.  I wanted to share a Sugar timeline in photos – from oldest to most recent, ending with a water color portrait…

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Spotlight Saturday – Margaret from The Word

Spotlight Saturday – Margaret from The Word

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for visiting this week’s Spotlight Saturday.

This series is a way for me to spread the word about the wonderful bloggers out there with short, fun interviews that I do with them so that you can get to know them and their blogs a little better. Even if you’re already following them, it could still be nice to read! 🙂 You can get more of a feel for who they are and what their blogs are all about.

So, without further ado, we’ll just get right into the interview!

My words are in italics, and hers are in bold.

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Spotlight Saturday #2

Hey guys! Thanks for coming by this week’s spotlight. Today, I am so happy to introduce all of you to my sweet friend, who blogs over at The Word. Please welcome Margaret!

Hello everyone, I pray you’re doing well and full of God’s joyous love and blessings 🙂 I’m humbled, and have mercy on me because I’ve never been interviewed before 🙂

How fun that I’m your first interviewer! Well, I aim for my questions to be easy to answer, so you have nothing to worry about. To get this started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a child of God, married to a wonderful man, and mother of a son who is truly a gift from God. I used to work ALL the time but I’m blessed to be able to stay home now. So, my days are occupied with taking care of my family, my home, and the yard. 🙂

That’s wonderful, Margaret! Family is truly a blessing. My next question is, why did you start your blog The Word?

Well Maggie, I would send out Bible verses to family and friends. Then whenever someone would say, “I loved the verses you sent me,” anyone listening would say, “I want Bible verses, too.” The list grew. One morning while I was reading my Bible, and typing up the verses I was sending that day, I said, “Lord, there has to be an easier way.” Start a blog came into my head. Yeah right, I can barely text, lol, start a blog, right. I continued reading my Bible but, start a blog, start a blog kept coming into my mind. I googled how to start a blog, and “How to start a Blog in less than 30 minutes” type of pages came up. Ok God, I’m listening 🙂 30 minutes later the blog was up and running. I have been overwhelmed by all the people who love God, and His Word.

That’s beautiful, Margaret! I had something similar happen with my blog; I wasn’t wanting to be on WordPress because I couldn’t keep up with blogs in the past, but then my mom came up with the name Dreaming of Guatemala as a potential blog name for me, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I made my blog that day and I’ve loved posting on it ever since. 🙂 So, what is your favorite post that you’ve written so far? What was it about?

That’s a tough one, Maggie, because honestly I love them all. They are God’s Words! Him talking to me, to all of us. What’s not to love. 🙂 They are uplifting, loving, comforting, inspiring, promising, I could go on. Sometimes they step on my toes, and point me in the right directions I should go, and help direct me away from the world’s temptations. Which I need daily. I’d be a mess without His daily presence.

Yes, I love all of your posts! Getting to see Bible verses in my Reader every day is a blessing. Ok, my next question is: what are the things you love most about being on WordPress?

That’s a great question Maggie, I truly love that eveyone I have had the pleasure to converse with has been so welcoming, and kind. It really seems to be like a family.

It has been that way for me, too! Everyone has definitely been so sweet and welcoming to me. Alright, my last question is: why would you love for my readers to come by your blog today?

That’s an easy one Maggie 🙂 I’d love for people to visit The Word today and enjoy the beautiful Words God laid out for us all. His Word is always a great addition to any day.

Amen to that! ❤ Thank you so much for letting me interview you today, Margaret. 🙂 I enjoyed it, and I know that my readers will, too.

It was my pleasure, Maggie. Thank you. I am truly humbled that you found me worthy of an interview 🙂

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Thank you all so much for reading! It would make both of us very happy if you could visit her blog for yourself. She blogs about Bible verses daily, is very kind and welcoming, and would love to talk to you about God’s Word!

Have an awesome Saturday, everyone!!

— Maggie

Little Accomplishments – April 28th, 2017

Little Accomplishments – April 28th, 2017

What have you accomplished this week?

I finally got myself to work on one of these posts throughout the week, hahahah! Welcome back to this Friday’s Little Accomplishments, everyone!

My family and I have slowly been getting back to normal, which I’m so thankful for. We visited different libraries, spent some time outside (which my sinuses didn’t appreciate, haha), and ran different errands around the city, just like we usually do. 🙂 I hope and pray that your past week has been enjoyable, too!

Let’s celebrate all of life’s joys – no matter how small!

This past week, I…

  • reached 300 followers! (Oh my goodness, guys! I can’t thank you enough ❤ )
  • got caught up on upcoming blog posts. (I end up waiting to complete posts until practically the day before I publish them, instead of having them ready days in advance! So, I prepared a little better this week: I’ve interviewed different people, baked some new treats, and browsed Pixabay for pictures I need in multiple posts.)
  • bought a watch. (I’ve been wanting one for a while. And this one was only $3!)

  • finished my Algebra II course. (Wooohooooo! Math + letters = not fun. HAHA)
  • checked out a lot of awesome books from the library. (From some kids’ novels for school (children’s literature), to some books that I’ve been wanting/needing to read for a while, our trip to the library on Monday was very productive! I’ve been reading more this past week than I have in a long time. [By the way, the one on the left is not a library book; it’s a devotional book from a friend. I just keep it beside my bed for easy access in the mornings!])

  • finished reading Anne of Green Gables. (I picked it up for a reading challenge I’ll be doing on my blog soon, and before I knew it … I was halfway through the book! I found all of the characters likeable within the first few chapters, and I just had to find out what happened next! [And, as you probably saw in the library haul pic above, I’m on my way to read the whole Anne series. lol])
this is the edition I read the story from. isn’t it beautiful?
  • dusted my desk and organized the drawers. (I usually have to do this bi-weekly – dust and stuff pile up fast!!)
  • further caught up on my Spanish. (Practically every week, I’ll fall behind a bit on memorizing words on Memrise [hah], then I’ll do my best to catch up again. However, I did just reach 500 memorized words on Spanish 3, which is pretty awesome!)

Comment what YOU’VE done this week down below – last Saturday through today!

— Maggie

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Last summer, I visited the Great American Cookies Company with my dad and brothers, and he let each of us pick a cookie that we wanted to try. When I saw that they had lemon sugar cookies, I knew that I had to have one! I couldn’t get over how delicious it was – it had a sweet lemon flavor and was probably the best sugar cookie I’ve ever tasted.

While pondering what new recipes to try recently, as I scrolled down Pinterest and sifted through Allrecipes, I realized something: There’s probably a lemon sugar cookie recipe out there! It didn’t take me long to find one, and a few days later, I was getting busy in the kitchen.

The original recipe calls them ‘Princess Cookies,’ and while the story behind the name is adorable (check it out on Allrecipes!), ‘Lemon Sugar Cookies’ suits me better.

They turned out delicious! They weren’t as flavorful as the ones I had last summer, but that was to be expected, lol. Mine were free of artificial colors and preservatives! Mine had a light lemon flavor and a texture that was very cakelike. They weren’t spongy, or anything, but they were chewier than other cookies I’ve had!

I halved this recipe and made about 15 cookies. I used more lemon juice and zest than the recipe called for to make sure that they had a great lemon flavor. For the lemon glaze on top, I found a recipe from this cake, which I also halved.

So, let’s go ahead and see how I made these cookies!

Here are the ingredients:

I mixed the dry ingredients together:

Then I combined the wet ingredients in a separate bowl:

Next, I mixed them together!

Making sure not to overstir, I chilled the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Then I rolled them into little balls and baked them.

Once they had cooled for a few minutes, I made the lemon glaze (I used too much lemon juice – please don’t make the same mistake lol!) and drizzled it over all the cookies.

I loved how these turned out, and I’m looking forward to making them again! Let me know how you like them if you make them yourself. 🙂

Have a blessed Thursday, everyone!

— Maggie

Making the Change ~ Week Three

Making the Change ~ Week Three

When I first started writing these posts, I completely intended on striving after optimism, as well as a brighter outlook on life and a happier attitude. But then, life hit me with a lot of highs and lows, and I found myself fighting for joy more than ever before. It was definitely a test of faith, and I’m honestly positive that, through all of it, no matter what my initial responses to each situation and problem were, the Lord taught me much more than I can ever explain about knowing Him, and appreciating the family that I have.

So, this walk of change got off to a much, much rockier start than I would’ve ever anticipated … but I trust in my all-knowing Heavenly Father. There is a reason for it all, and I am thankful for the struggles, for I have grown ever closer to Him. 🙂

My prayer for this series is that I will slowly see a positive change in the areas of my life that have become so negative – and I believe that I’ve already started to see that change. ❤ I’d like to thank all of you for following along and encouraging me; I appreciate that more than I can ever express to you. 🙂

Making the Change – April 19th through April 25th

~ On Wednesday, I spent most of the afternoon at the hospital with my family. I felt at peace knowing that my family and our situation was in the Lord’s hands. I didn’t feel anxious, which was a wonderful change from the usual tension of stressful times.

~ On Thursday, my mom was doing much better than I thought she would be. My dad and I went grocery shopping for her (as it’s something she usually does) so that she could take it easy at home. I got lots of ingredients for baking recipes, and I’m looking forward to making them in the days to come. So, all in all, my Thursday was happy and productive. 🙂

~ On Friday, through a string of events that were hard on me but full of important lessons, I learned a lot about myself and the family that I love. It was definitely not a day that I desire to reflect on any further.

~ On Saturday, I played different games and did some fun activities with my 5 year old brother, Samuel. I learned more about forgiveness and looking past people’s faults and still loving them. ❤

~ On Sunday, something happened that left my whole family rather emotionally drained – but we again felt at peace with the knowledge that we’re in the Lord’s hands, and that no matter what happens, He will be here for us. ❤

~ On Monday, I got along much better with my brothers (there was much less bickering and taking silly jokes too far, lol), and the three of us had fun playing Minecraft all together. I love doing multiplayer games!

~ On Tuesday, we spent the late morning and all of the afternoon running errands. We got so much done, which I am extremely thankful for, but it also left us pretty worn out!

And today (Wednesday), I’ve published this post!

If you’re working on making a positive change in your life, I would be so happy to talk to you in the comments below. 🙂

What is something that YOU desire to change in your life?

I hope that everyone’s Wednesday has gotten off to a beautiful start. xx

— Maggie

Memory Profiles: Zoo Atlanta

Memory Profiles: Zoo Atlanta

Recently, I had a fun idea for a new type of posts, and I got the inspiration for it from the topic that I’ll be talking about today! So here’s my idea:

What if I were to write posts about different places and activities that I’ve loved going to and doing over the years, then find pictures of me as a kid doing those specific things? I think it’d be fun to compile together, talk about, and let all of my readers see how I looked as a kid. It might be humiliating sometimes, but hey, we all went through those awkward stages. (At least, I think we did … lol!)

So, here’s a bit of information for today’s post:

  • It’s one of my all-time favorite places to go.
  • Because I live so close, I usually go multiple times a year.
  • My dad helped build one of the new exhibits.
  • I can’t remember the first time that I went.

Today, I’ll be talking all about Zoo Atlanta!!

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{A Bit About It}

Zoo Atlanta is an absolutely wonderful zoo. It has a large variety of animals, good-sized exhibits, very nice staff members and volunteers, and the way the whole park is laid out … I could go on and on about how much I love it!

Because my family and I live less than an hour away, we’ve had a membership most years, which is so nice. We’re able to spread out what animals we’d like to see over the course of a few trips instead of trying to pack it all into one day!

As I mentioned a moment ago, the park has an epic layout, and that is by habitat or country, so there’s a place for the African animals (lions, meerkats, zebras, warthogs, etc), a place for rainforest animals (gorillas and other monkeys), a place for Australian animals (kangaroos, kookaburras, etc), a place for Asian animals (pandas, sun bears, etc.), and so on. There are also animals that don’t come from a specific geographical places, like different birds and domestic animals (i.e. the petting zoo), but for the most part, it’s very easy to figure out from the map where each animal is located.

The first time I ever went was in 2002, and I don’t remember it except through pictures because … I was two. (That’s the featured image of this post!)

{When You Get There}

The first thing you see when you get into the zoo are the flamingos.

2010 (10 and 6); me and Joshua with the flamingos
And honestly, that exhibit has seemed so boring to me after going to the Birmingham Zoo last year, because their flamingo exhibit is designed so that you can feed the birds out of your hand!

2016 (16); hand-feeding a flamingo at Birmingham Zoo
Sorry, I couldn’t help including that picture, haha. Alright, back to the Atlanta Zoo.

The exhibit that excited me even more (if that was possible!) than the petting zoo was the unveiling of the budgie exhibit in 2010. I was legitimately soooo excited, you don’t even know.

2010 (10); feeding a parakeet by hand
I’m pretty sure the picture above was of the first time a budgie trusted me to eat from the food stick I always had with me when walking around that exhibit. Such a fun experience! (But I found out when we went to the zoo a few weeks ago that the exhibit is now permanently closed so that they can expand the elephant exhibit. 😦 I understand why they’re doing it, but I’ll always miss it.)

2012 (12); feeding a parakeet
#RIPParakeetExhibit

After checking out the flamingos, there are two different ways you can go; the first, which is also the one that most people take, is the path to the African exhibits, starting with the elephants, then leading to the warthogs, meerkats, and so on; and the second way is to the playground/Treetop Trail, which then leads to the attractions: a carousel, rock climbing, and this curséd climbing thing.

2016 (16); crazy rock climbing/bungee/slide thing
Back in September of last year, I decided to climb up the inside of that thing with my brothers … and instantly went into survival mode. Not only did I have to figure out how to get myself to the top, but I also helped Samuel (5) and Joshua (12) find their way up, as well. It was strenuous, stressful, and a huge struggle. Hah! I don’t recommend this contraption for any ages.

2016 (16); playing the drums at the playground
They recently shifted the playground around to the back of the area where it has always been because of the all-new [disappointing] Treetop Trail, which is set up right above the playground area! The most also disappointing thing about the playground growing up was that they don’t have any swings; just different things to climb on.

If you continue on through the park, you’ll see that the carousel is fairly close to that awful climbing thing. lol

2016 (16); riding the carousel
I’m pretty sure that all of the carousel animals can be seen at the zoo – for example, in the picture above, the three of us were riding a trio of pandas! Our main goal on the carousel is to find the animals that ride the highest for maximum fun. hahah

Once you’re done checking out the attractions, you can check out the birds, Australian animals, and the petting zoo.

2002 (2); brushing a goat at the petting zoo

2004 (4); riding the wooden horse

2010 (10); petting a goat at the petting zoo
I already shared some photos of me with the goats, so here’s one of me “riding” an old wooden horse that used to be there. I think that’s a SpongeBob Band-Aid on my knee. xD

Once you’re done there, you can head over to the Wild Planet Café.

2016 (16); Wild Planet Café
Heads-up: it’s not really a café – think more along the lines of “cafeteria”!! Our favorite things to get there are the pizza and the fries, but they also have a nice selection of other lunch foods, as well.

Continuing on through the park from there, you can visit the pandas and other animals from Asia, and then head over to the rainforest animals area, which mainly consists of the gorilla exhibit.

2003 (3); posing on the gorilla statue
Haha! Who knew I could be so stoked about gorillas. My favorite time to visit the gorillas are when there are babies; they love coming up to the thick glass panes of the indoor viewing area and playing around with the children watching them.

Now, if you’ll remember from the beginning of this post, I mentioned that my dad helped build one of the new exhibits. That’s because he works in construction (he drives a concrete truck), and they needed a lot of concert when they built the new reptile house!

In all honesty, I love the old reptile house from the 70’s way more. But the new one has some really cool animals, too.

2016 (16); some of the animals in the new reptile house
To anyone who’s scared of snakes: I’m sorry if the pictures above disturbed you. These were very chill snakes; nothing vicious, I assure you 😀 (But then, I’ve always had a thing for snakes.)

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what your favorite parts about Zoo Atlanta are if you’ve ever been.

What’s YOUR favorite zoo? What do you love about it?

— Maggie

The Ultimate Book Tag

The Ultimate Book Tag

So, it appears that yesterday was World Book Day!!! I happily celebrated by reading a children’s classic that I’ve been needing to read for years. (Be on the lookout for that post! It should be up soon.)

Today, I’ll be participating in The Ultimate Book Tag! A lovely blogger that I follow named Prerna posted her answers to the questions yesterday, and she invited all avid readers to participate – so I’m very happy to join in on this awesome tag! You can read Prerna’s post here.

I love answering questions about reading because it is definitely my all-time favorite thing to do. Whether it’s a beautiful work of fiction, or the beautiful inspired words of the Bible, I absolutely love curling up with a book, whether it be morning or evening. As of recently, I have unfortunately been reading less, what with having to juggle blogging, family time, and everything else that interests me, but I will always enjoy the experience of holding a book and bringing the words to life. I’m a storyteller, and I’ve delighted in making stories come alive since I was a young child.

Alright! On with my answers to the questions. ❤

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1. Do you get sick while reading in the car? Yes, I’ve had that problem since I was ten or eleven – but the funny thing is, when I recently risked reading while riding in a car (I was hooked on that book), I didn’t feel sick! Maybe it was just the magic of a really good book 😮

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why? All authors have their own unique way of writing, and we’re all influenced by what we read, see, and experience. Still, I’d have to say that my favorite is Nora Raleigh Baskin. I’m sure that not many people know who she is, but she wrote one of my favorite novels. It’s called Anything but Typical, and oh, man … I love how she lets the readers get inside the head of Jason, the main character, who has autism. Speaking of which, I’d like to read that book again.

3. The Harry Potter series or Twilight saga? Give three points to defend your answer. As I’ve only read a couple of the HP books and none of the Twilight books, I cannot be for or against either – not really. However, from what I know about both, I know that I love Harry Potter way more!

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)? I do occasionally. For instance, when I went and researched for my novel at the library last summer, I brought one with me. It contained my study notebook, a few writing utensils, and anything else I needed with me to aid me in story-creating.

Related Post: Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Research Tips

5. Do you smell your books? Yes. Yes, I do. #littletonoshame

6. Books with or without little illustrations? Now, this really depends. If the illustrations contain a lot of faces – you know, character depictions – then count me out. It distracts me from my creativity, lol. I like to imagine characters a certain way, and it isn’t the way 98% of illustrators imagine them. But if the illustrations are of scenes the characters have visited, silhouettes of people, and objects significant to the plot, then yes, by all means!! I love those for any story.

7. What is the thinnest book on your shelf? The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. I still need to read that!

8. What is the thickest book on your shelf? ANIMAL. It’s an awesome atlas of the world’s animals that my aunt got for me for my 10th birthday. Not only does it remind me of her, but it is also a great way to read about so many different creatures. I enjoy all of the images it includes.

9. When did you get into reading? I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t reading. Haha! My mom read aloud to me when I was little, and the moment I learned to read myself, I started with board books, then moved on to picture books, then kept working up from there.

10. What is your favorite classic book? The Great Gatsby! I read it for school a few years ago, and the funny thing was that I wasn’t expecting to like it – but I loved it! If you’re a fan of the book and movies, I would love to talk to you about Gatsby in the comments below.

11. In school, what was your best subject? English!

12. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do? Well, depending on who gave it to me, I’d either ask them if I could exchange it for another book, or I’d donate it for someone else to enjoy. I love books, but I definitely don’t collect them!

13. What is your favorite word? Why did the word ‘bubble’ pop into my head?? Hahaha! I’m not choosing that as my favorite one, um … I like too many words. I like ones that are fun to say (sphinx, juxtaposition, brontide … bubble), and I also like ones that mean a lot to me (joy, creativity, family, and )

14. Full-on romance or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in? Full-on romance, allllll the way!!! With movies, on the other hand, I much prefer the action-packed with minimal romance, lol. Romance movies are alright, but I enjoy comedy, action, and mystery way more.

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I’d like to tag my beautiful blogging friend Shannon, who is an avid reader like me! I love the Spice of My Shelves series that she’s been doing recently – you should definitely go check them out!

I’d also like to tag anyone else reading this who loves to read!! I have officially tagged you. If you’re interested in answering the questions for yourself, please feel free to do so. xx

I hope that everyone’s Monday has been absolutely beautiful so far! And as a side note, know that I will always be here for any of you if you need me. Whether you need someone to talk to or you need help with something, I’m here for you. Just send me an email (visit my Contact page) or comment on any post.

Blessings! ❤

— Maggie