Have a Blessed 4th of July ~

"O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"
Original lyrics, penned by Francis S. Key
Cover of sheet music, 1862

His Everlasting Love

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed
in all their vast array."
~ Genesis 2:1
 "My child, I created nothing in the world without forethought. Do you really think any creature could just "evolve" without precise, delicate thoroughness from My hand? If I know when a sparrow falls, and how many hairs are on your head, do you not also believe I am in control of the details of your life? You were a child in My heart long before you were a spark in your mother's eyes. With thoroughness, I created the world and everything in it. And with thoroughness, I will carry out My eternal plan for you."

This is my part of my morning devotional today and I loved it since John and I had been discussing how beautiful the day has been. Since moving here and being retired, we've had more time to ride around, to explore, to stop when we want and just watch the water flow. We've seen more birds that I've had to look up, fish that I've learned from John's excitement, and today part of the discussion was the fact that He didn't have to give us so many beautiful creatures. He didn't have to give us so many shrubs, trees, and flowers that bloom at some point year round. He didn't have to. But He did. He takes such delight in pleasing His children. I want to give back that same feeling to Him. Not to ever take for granted the simplest things in life. Is there a God? Look around you. Could man make everything you see? Whether indoors or out, there's something there that man can not do. Oh yes there's a God. And He wants our love, our devotion, our obedience. Just as I love my children and family, I have a heavenly Father that loves more than I ~ and that's difficult for me to imagine as I'd die for mine. Just as he did for me. But for strangers? Truly? I'd have to know the cause and the why's. Jesus knew He was dying for some that will never make it to Heaven, but He wills that we do. We have the choice. Please don't pass it up. I only saw the Garden and it was more than any Garden I've ever seen. I felt more peace and comfort than I've ever felt. There is a God, and He wants to know you.
I love Melissa Lester's blog and have featured her on here before. I really need to add her to my labels over on the right hand side {smile font}. Hers was the first updated blog I saw when I came to my site and I know the area of which she has photographed her daughter. I grew up not far from there and it was always a place our family visited during its open hours. Talk about God's beauty. The garden you'll find there is well tended to and cared for and many photographers use it, as well as weddings and receptions. I thought I'd end my post by letting you visit her site and see for yourself why it left me with a calm and peaceful feeling. Melissa is a beautiful Christian and Godly woman, and she not only has written books but is a speaker should you need someone for a women's day of devotion. Click here for a visit to Jasmine Hill ~ and yes, she makes her daughter's dresses. Another talent of hers.
Have a most blessed week and notice the beauty of it.

Bits & Pieces of June ~

1 ~ What is with the border around the blog title?! I cannot get rid of it! I wanted the title to say "Faith, Family, & Friends" instead of the original "Faith, Family & Food".  When I re-added the new header, there was a border! I've gone thru HTML, and editing shops and STILL, there's a border. An ugly border. Stacia, Teale, ideas?

OKAY! Uploading the photo and putting it on here, there's no border! Why won't it look like this when I try to do the header in Layout?!?!?! Help, someone!

2 ~ I am missing our youngest and her babies! It's been since the first part of March  (I know we're blessed that they aren't further away. All three girls live within less than five hours, so we feel truly blessed). She did drive down with a friend for a quick Sunday lunch - it was a business trip - and that's been it. However {smile font} they may make it here for a weekend trip soon, and we are driving up the end of this month to see them!
Jenny took this photo and I love it!
Elle is a girly girl, but she so wants to learn karate.
Imagine, a girly girl that can turn your head around,
with one kick to the cheek! 
And the two older brothers she adores.
Her karate heroes.
Oh, I can't wait to get my snuggles on!
Stacey came with her babies & the sun was out!
Stacey's two love the open water.
And the waves obliged.
Boogie Board time.
John went with them to The Track.
Go Carts, Bumper Boats, and the Arcade.
Alaina had lost two teeth before they came.
She is our snaggle toothed princess {hearts!}
Stacey's view of the Gulf, and her cute feet.
John and I like sitting under the umbrella!
And her family will be back!
To help celebrate the 4th of July. Which means,
we have to go purchase a grill,
for the Grill Master is coming!!! WhooHoo!!

3 ~ I have a girlfriend visiting this weekend and it's always so good when she's here. Guess where we met up for lunch?!
What do I love about The Hangout?
Besides the music, the dancing on the tables
and in the aisles? The sliders and fries?
Walk right out to the sand and surf.
Or do as we did,
sit yourself down on a boardwalk bench.
We'd planned to do a bit of shopping,
so we're saving the beachy part for tomorrow.
Always a breeze, always the smell of salt,
always a vacation day ~ when you're retired!
The cutie in the middle and the cutie on the right,
didn't like this photo. Yeah, we all have cellulite.
But you know what?!
We're happy. We feel good,
and we're children of The King.
Can't get any better than that.
Besides, I think cellulite is a natural part
of a woman's body now. Julia Roberts has it {big smile font}
When I saw this, I immediately thought of my circle of friends.

4 ~ I read some of the funniest things on Pinterest this week. Laughed out loud many times and laughter is so good for the soul. Here are a few.
One to inspire ~
and one that taught me something!
I pray you've had a good week.
Here's to love, laughter, and family & good friends.
Blessings ~

Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili ~

Very seldom do I cook new recipes. Well, okay, very seldom do I cook. Shhhhh, only my friends & family know. I like good food, though, and am beyond blessed to have family & friends that are good cooks! Those that aren't? We meet at a good eatery!

I found this recipe on Pinterest. Yes, my new favorite place to be. It looked good. It looked easy. AND, we were having family in. So YES, I wanted to impress {wink font}
I won't go into it here BeCAuSe I want YOU to visit this site! Don't let the title fool you. This girl has some good stuff. And not just photos. Y'all, this recipe is a throw together, can't get easier, will make it again recipe! Click here on Photo a Day to get the easy peasy recipe. We ate it in different ways. I made a burrito with mine adding shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and Lite sour cream. The Hood ate his with a burrito on the side, and Stacey (if I remember correctly) ate hers with tostido chips. You can't go wrong. It's that easy. Now, if I could just buy shredded chicken somewhere. Have a blessed week!

Oh, and those sweet things that visited with us this past week?! Our oldest daughter and their two sweet babies. The Hood went to The Track with them while they rode race carts and bumper cars! Yeah, we hated seeing them leave. We have five of the most loving and affectionate babies. We are so in love~
They'll be back in July for the 4th! And she's bringing HER hubs to grill and cook! He's a master at grilling and cooking on the grill. I'm cutting way back on my eating until then so I can stuff myself while he's here!

~ from The Letter Writer ~

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