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3 posts from December 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours


Here we are bringing another year to a close, it all goes by so fast I'm afraid to blink anymore.  But here we are, thinking about 2020 and what the year might bring - and how we can survive the inundation of political ads and debates over the next 11 months without losing our minds.  I know!  Be creative!  Focus on the things that make us truly happy, enjoy our family and friends, laugh more, love and forgive always.

I'm just so happy to be where I am in life, that I wanted to take some time to reflect on that a bit. At 60y/o, life takes on new meaning.  Family, friends, and reaching out to others in need becomes more important.  Appreciating the little things like a fire in the fireplace, a nap on a comfy bed or in a favorite chair, a delicious meal, a cup of hot cocoa with our feet up watching a movie, someone says something funny and causes a lot of laughter.  Oh, how these things mean so much in life.  It is not about "things."  For me, it never has been about material things.  Life isn't life, for me anyway, without relationships and love, hugs and laughter, shared tears and worries, conversation and cuddles.  And nature - the smell of fresh cut grass, or a flower that my Big Bear brings to me, or the smell of a fireplace burning aged oak wood, the quiet of a winter snowfall, the winds of autumn, the feel of springtime sunshine on my face.  Or, the sight of my 95y/o mother walking from her bedroom to greet the day, the conversations we share throughout each day that many times bring on tears of laughter.  Bob's snoring and cooking, Matthew's outrageous laugh and humor.  Glen's willingness to help when needed, and his incredible one-liners that stop us all in our tracks.  Chester GSD's farts are toxic.  Bailey GSD is attached to Matthew's hip.  Hannah Shihtzu/Maltese is always under our feet - and chairs.  Picasso kitty could care less about anyone.  I wouldn't change a thing.

We've been enormously blessed in this life.  Bob and I have been married 27 years, and for the both of us, family is everything.  I wouldn't be where I am today if not for him and my family's love and support.  I've seen my art career take off in leaps and bounds in 25 years.  It is humbling and I am so grateful that I am able to do what I love - Painting, Quilting, Crafting, Writing, Blogging ... these are the things that I do for myself.  We all need something in our life that we love to do just for us.  I've been blessed to be able to do those things for many years, and I pray the same for each of you. 

Bob and I grew up in Maryland, but North Carolina has become our home.  We've lived here almost 15 years, and our children have grown up here.  Moving here was the best decision we ever made. 

I don't take credit for any of this that we share in this life ... It's all God.  I give all the glory to our Father and the Lord Jesus.  Daily prayer and gratefulness, Faith.  Can't live without Him in my life.  And I know that this life will lend itself to heartache, heartbreak, loss, pain, illness ... it comes in different forms.  These are the things of this world, and that is why we must make each day as kind to ourselves and others as possible.  Be grateful ... even in the darkest of times, it is what gets us through.

Now ...

To All my Friends:

There are three places on the internet that bring me joy - My blog "Raisin Toast," my online art gallery at "Mary Susan Vaughn Fine Art," and, "Facebook."  Yes, Facebook.  And here's why:  

Over the 12 years or so I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve connected with dear childhood friends and high school friends, friends made throughout my life, and family who live in other States. I’ve come to know many wonderful people, mostly artists, who are brilliantly creative. A few of the new friends I have made online have become dear and special friends that I communicate with frequently outside of FB, and they are a real blessing in my life.

Over the years I’ve lost a few of these friends to cancer, and a good number of them have lost spouses and children, loved ones, and siblings, to illness, cancer, or tragic accidents. I lost a childhood friend recently. What was thought to be pneumonia took her life at the tender age of 59. Sudden and without warning she is gone from our life. She was my first friend at age 5, and my first best friend. So many wonderful memories, as we have been friends for 54 years. A number of my friends are struggling with being alone and/or with depression, moving or divorce. It puts life into perspective, as I reflect on the precious lives of each and everyone I am connected with in this life.

I care about each of you and am grateful for all that you lend to my life. If I can help any of you in some way, with love, compassion, guidance, hugs, laughter, friendship, conversation, or a place to stay, I am here for you. I value our friendship, and know that we are all in this life journey together in one form or another, and each of us are learning from one another along the way. Thank you for all you have shared and taught me in my life.

I am humbled by the beautiful works of art I see daily in my FB newsfeed, and the goodness and stories that many of you share. I’ve learned so much from you all - from personal courage, scripture, God’s grace, and the power of prayer, to cooking and painting tips and more. It has been an adventure for me, and it reminds me daily that I am but a blip in this world. And, if I can make a difference in someone’s life, or bring a smile or a laugh to your day, I will have done something good, albeit small. I feel empathy and compassion for others, especially those who are suffering and struggling, and wish, this Christmas, and for this coming new year, to bring you good health, abundant happiness, security, true love, prosperity, plenty of hugs, and all that your heart desires. I wish this for you.

Thank you for letting me share my life, family, pets, and art with you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for correcting me when I make mistakes, praying for me and my family when needed, and for sharing in my joys, struggles, concerns, and moments of reflection.

Mostly, thank you for sharing your life with me. Wishing you a blessed and very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy new year. 🎄



Thursday, December 12, 2019

What I'd Say

🌳 What I’d Say🌳

if I Could Speak To Everyone In The World

At The Same Time 



For God’s Sake...

Love one another
Listen without judgment
Assume nothing
Be kind
You are stronger than you think
You have the power to change the trajectory of hate
Build your life on a foundation of Faith

... And recognize hatred, bullying, lies, deception, and selfishness for what they are ... evil traits of the mighty low one. The one who cowers in the sewers of our lives and wishes only to destroy all goodness in this world. That evil one (Satan) only serves himself and thinks all are below him. He loves and laughs at our divisions and scheming. He cackles when he sees people getting sucked into the black hole of ignorance and lies paraded as truth.

Aim higher. Be more. Pass on wisdom and life lessons that will frame the next generations into a kinder humanity. Wake up to the world we are leaving our children and future generations.



Take the first step of change by recognizing your own failings first. We have all failed at one time or another.

Humility is a virtue, and takes enormous strength. The evil one wants you to believe otherwise. Satan wants you to believe that kindness and humility are a weakness. Why? Because those are the very virtues that suck the oxygen out of his being. He cannot survive in a world of virtuous souls.



Don’t just walk away. Do something good. Do what is right, when you know in your gut it needs to be done. Be Positive. Humbling. Kind. Pay it forward. Expect nothing in return but God’s Grace.

With this, one lesson, education, kindness, one person at a time, WE can change the world.

But, we must first be able to ... (Your thoughts in the comments)



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Reading is Fundamental

Matthew (2015) Sarah (2012) Glen (2018)
I homeschooled my 3 youngest children until they started high school. I wanted them to have a special high school experience in making new friends, involvement in groups and activities, prom, football games. I kept them active and busy when I was homeschooling, but I knew that the last of these formative years would be good for them at a high school. It was the best decision I ever made. Not only were they academically successful, their youth had not been robbed from them by bullies and horrible experiences in elementary and middle school years.
I read to them daily. I taught them to read and write as well. They were all reading simple elementary books at 2-3 years old. It was amazing. I was blessed, however, in being able to stay home with my children full time while building my own career as an artist. That fact doesn't escape me.
The greatest joy for me as a mother was when my children learned a new word, a new concept, a new math equation, or something new. From birth to now, it is still exciting to me to see how far my children have come. College, marriage, scholarships, successes, lots of writing and music. It is the greatest reward I have ever received in life.
Sadly, so many children come from broken homes, and the stress on the parent raising them is enormous. Or, the parent(s) are so exhausted from a tough work day that they are too tired to help their children with their homework or even speak to them. It seems that many children have no real guidance at home anymore. The parents provide a place to live and the fundamentals for living while their children grow up, but the example as parent, teaching virtue, compassion, morality, values, a strong work ethic, building integrity and empathy, sharing, reading, conversation about what they read, or their day, and giving them the security they need to grow up feeling completely loved, cared for, and educated are tough to come by anymore. Seems that that family model is almost completely gone. Sadly, more children are raised in a home of disinterested parents than not. Not all mind you, but many more than we'd like to admit.
I pray the family model moves forward and teaches us all how to be better parents. Parenting is DIFFICULT!! Believe me, we've all made our share of human mistakes in parenting out of hurt, frustration, stress, financial crisis, relationship strains, whatever. But putting God, family, our children, and education, first, in "our" home, was the model that best worked for us. Not everyday, but I would say most days.
There is never a "right" time to have a child, or children. A person's place in life, age, maturity, personal life experiences and lessons, financial standing, home life and relationships, relationship with God, all play a strong role in parenting and raising a child. The stars are never perfectly aligned, and there will always be hardship, loss, crisis, tragedies, unemployment, something, that throws a wrench in our life and plans, making it even more difficult to be a good parent. Mix that up with our own set of emotions, and you've got more a stew for disaster than success. As parents, we must make an effort to do our best - as often as possible. It's not easy. Personalities will clash with your children at some point. It's teaching them about life, and how we, as parents deal with tough times and circumstances can be even more difficult. But parents need to be involved.
Communication is key. Reading about something together. Talking about the news of the day. Asking your children questions about their experiences or views of how they think they would have handled a particular issue or problem, friendship, or something else. Healthy communication with parents, guardians, a trusted adult, a teacher, or grandparent, or caring neighbor, is lacking for so many of today's children.
And that there lies the problem - lack of engagement with our children, for whatever reason.
Reading is by far the best gift we can give our child. It prepares them for school, life, and an opportunity to grow and mature, learn and express their opinions, and be comfortable being focused on their readings and having alone time too. There are far too many "idiots" in this country. And for many, its because they weren't afforded a good start in life.
I wish we could change the trajectory of family and raising children and be an example to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it is getting far worse than better. What are we to do? Hopefully, those who do care will have set an example for their own children to pass it on generation to generation. Stop the complacency and blind interest. Be involved.
Here is the article that inspired me to write this post:
Remember ... "Reading is Fundamental"


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