Letters to my ladies...

I was recently watching Kathie Lee and Hoda when I found myself in tears listening to Jenna Bush's poignant letter she wrote to her beloved grandmother, Barbara, whom had just passed away at the age of 92.  I couldn't help but reminisce over my own mother and grandmothers and all they had taught me with their words and more importantly, their actions.  So, I immediately sat down and allowed my own feelings to pour out over a keyboard and came up with several 'letters' to the women in my life who have shaped and formed me as the woman I am today.  So, here's the first of hopefully many that I will pen.  Starting with my own mother only seemed fitting on Mother's Day weekend--

Dear Mama-
You did good.  You raised 4 children that are respectful, love Jesus, never went to jail {that I know of} and love each other deeply.  You did all that with a deployed husband in Navy housing all over the country while moving roughly every 18 months.  I'm not sure how you're not a raging alcoholic or on meds permanently to be honest.  You did this with grace and poise and Jesus...and a spanking spoon that would scare the devil.
Our youth was full of love, laughter and lots of moving.  None of which i would trade for any treasure in the world.  You and Dad helped us see the world from different perspectives, respect other cultures and step outside our comfort zones to meet and love new people.  That wasn't easy but most good things come from the hardest of places.  You taught us that faith and family come first, manners and table etiquette still mean something and to show everyone you meet a little grace and mercy.  Spoiled was not a word we knew and are much better for it today.  
that's me about 2, my grandmother, my mom and my great grandmother....wish I could sit and talk to those two just ONE more time!

that's me about 2, my grandmother, my mom and my great grandmother....wish I could sit and talk to those two just ONE more time!

We called you 'Nazi Nancy".  You would know what we had done before we even did it.  We were all guilty before proven innocent and for that I have never tried to blame others for my wrong doings or decisions that lead to trouble.  You preached constantly that "Your sins will find you out" and "You become the company that you keep".  Although that drove me to insanity then, I find myself repeating that today more times than I'd care to admit to your face.  We were disciplined for good and it taught us all well how to be responsible adults in this crazy world.
Thank you for never bringing your views of your own body, weight or looks to my attention.  I never saw you step onto a scale, look over your shoulder at the back of your thighs or complain about your stomach in a bathing suit.  You showed by example that beauty is what your heart pours out and if you love the Lord then He shines radiance out of you.  I wish more mothers had done what you didn't do.  You didn't draw attention to my freshman 40 {yes, i did gain that} or allow me to wear shorts too short, tops too little or makeup too heavy {all you ever asked is that I had 'blush-on}.  That's a rare find and I have you to thank for my positive feelings about food, my body and weight today as a grown woman raising my own little girl.
Thank you for yours and dad's love story.  I know what true, devoted love is because of you both.  While parents were getting divorced, i never once worried that you would because of the love and friendship i always witnessed between you.  You are a team and although i'm sure there were hard moments, you never let us see them and our feeling of safety never wavered.  Because of that devotion, Jay and I strive everyday to have a marriage like yours.  You keep God in the center, laugh together and give each other room to grow on your own.  Thank you for showing my children your love for each other so they have a pure example of what real love looks like.
But, most of all, thank you for loving me.  I know I didn't always make it easy or fun but looking back I know that you were holding tight to God's promise "Raise a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it."  You definitely raised a girl that sees your devotion, beauty and faith now more than ever.  I only wish I had seen it much sooner.  {Let's pray Sophie sees it for me around 12 and not 22 or later....payback is not fun i've come to understand!}
You are an amazing grandmother and I know your prayers for us have continued and now move on to your 7 grandchildren.  May they be as lucky as we were to be yours!
Love you mama ~ your em
just a girl and her three brothers...wouldn't trade them for girls any day!

just a girl and her three brothers...wouldn't trade them for girls any day!

"Children are a heritage from the Lord...happy is the man who has a quiver full of them"  ~psalm 127.3-5

"Children are a heritage from the Lord...happy is the man who has a quiver full of them"

~psalm 127.3-5

Happily Ever After...Jon and Amanda's Wedding

So, the baby brother got married!

December is an all out busy month regardless, but add a wedding into the mix and it can get double busy real fast!  My youngest brother and his bride decided to walk down the aisle December 16th of 2017.  And although it was a little chilly, it was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been a part of.  So, I couldn't help but share a few of the gorgeous details...

photos by    the Kinne  ys

photos by the Kinneys

Everyone knows that the wedding planning begins with THE DRESS!  Amanda's stunning silhouette was an Oscar de la Renta straight off the runway from Joan Pillow Bridal in Atlanta, GA.  She completed her look with a cathedral length veil of illusion, crystal and platinum encrusted headband and white fur shrug to fight the chilly temps.  BUT, no look is truly complete without the proper shoes so......



    for the win!!

and don't forget the REBEL garter to surprise the Ole Miss groom too!

The venue took our breath away at every turn.  The Dixon Gallery & Gardens boast one of the most vast and beautiful lawns in East Memphis, making it perfect for an outdoor wedding to wow the masses.  

Not to mention, the two cutest flower girls, sweetest program attendants and ring bearer that ever did walk down an aisle helped make it even more enchanting.

No ceremony is complete til the bride and groom celebrate, eat cake and dance the night away.  The lit tents were the perfect backdrop for a winter's night and the children, and adults alike, were taken away with an energetic photo booth, entertaining band, signature cocktails and AMAZING cakes.  Oh, did I mention the cakes??  Well, if so, they are worth mentioning more times than most.

The duo bakers, Cakes by Mom and Me from West Memphis, AR completely out did themselves with Jon and Amanda's wishes.  The bride's four tier almond flavored white cake was frosted in the fluffiest buttercream and detailed by sugared green Jackson Vine along with sugared white peonies that looked so real you wanted to smell them!

Ummmm, the groom's cake!  I mean, have you ever seen a cake that has a REAL working jumbotron AND WORKING lights?  And it tastes divine too???  I highly doubt you have but I can now proudly say I have and it was beyond memorable!  Amanda surprised Jon with the jaw dropping creation and surprised every guest in the process as well!

Now, everyone knows that flowers are one of the most expensive but the most memorable of all details.  The bride incorporated soft winter hues of cream, green and tiny touches of blue brought out in the eucalyptus.  Florist L and Jay Productions out of Memphis were the masterminds behind every bouquet, boutenierre and arrangement.  From the awning entering the reception tents to the stunning upside down display over the bridal cake, no flower detail was left unturned.  

I could go on and on with the details but needless to say, fun was had by all and it was truly a weekend to remember.  From the rehearsal dinner to the trolley downtown after the reception, we are thrilled to say that AMart is officially a RUFF and our once family of 6 has joyfully grown into a family of 4 married siblings and 2 amazing parents that started and support it all!  I thank the Lord for my 3 brothers every day but thank Him twice for the wives they each chose.  

We love you, Amanda and Jon!  Cheers to Happily Ever After and a NOT SO RUFF LIFE!

with joy ~ em

Ruff Draft Papers designed the following

  • wedding programs
  • coasters
  • napkins
  • rehearsal dinner invitations
  • Bachelorette weekend invitations

everybody hurts

i have typed and deleted sentences in this post so many times and almost deleted the entire entry as well.  In business, I struggle with sharing too much or crossing over a line that no one wants to see or saying something that doesn't exude the joy i feel in my life every day.  i fear that i will expose a side of my heart that isn't accepted and that in itself is terrifying.

We recently had someone very dear to us go to Heaven and while yes, that happens every moment of the day, this person was struggling internally with mental illness and that made it that much harder.  It brought mental illness to the forefront of my mind and has made me think long and hard about those that are struggling in this terrible disease. 

But, it did more that that too.  His passing made me evaluate how much I truly know and understand those that I love.  Ask anyone close to me and they'll tell you that I am a firm believer in our stories and what they teach others.  Our paths have been blazed by our Creator and He didn't intend for those stories, lessons and memories to be brushed to the curb as we continue walking.  We all love, we hurt, we cry and we contain a beautiful capacity for His grace to paint a story worthy of telling.

It is when we keep these stories, lies, truths and dreams bottled and hidden that we in turn shadow God's goodness with our shame or fear.  We think that no one else has done what we've done or seen what we've seen.  That we are alone in our struggle, that we are the only ones that have ever heard words of discernment, discouragement or disappointment.  We somehow believe that our dreams could never become real life because we don't deserve or want it enough. 

We forget that our God gave us those dreams, fears, stories and experiences.  He paints us each with a paint brush that belongs to only us.  He never intended to wash our brush out in dirty water and start over with our canvas.  He loves the layers that each paint job tells.  We attempt to 'white out' the ugly picture we don't like then instead of living and drawing out a beautiful painting with what's left, we some how stay in that dirty water and think that is where we are to remain.

So, I say that TODAY, TODAY, you pull that bristled brush out of whatever dirty water you're standing in and for just one moment breath in the clean freshness of a dirty canvas craving to be repainted!  God is the ultimate artist and we are NEVER too far from his grace filled and redemptive paint brush.  He loves us enough to just wash over it all with His own blood and make it completely clean to paint anew.  But, don't ever forget that what's under the newly painted canvas are bumps, tears, mountains and valleys of stories that need to be told. 

You NEVER know who may need to hear that story and feel comforted knowing they are not alone.

always with joy ~ em

Blow Out {the candles} SALE!

Go, Emmy, it's your birthday!

If you know me, you know that I love a shindig of any kind.  my favorite vision is a backyard table scape complete with all the twinkle lights, champagne, laughter and a little one man band on the side.  So, there you go, if you ever wanted to throw me the PERFECT par-tay, DONE!

My birthday is always Memorial Day weekend so school celebrations and friends showing in attendance was never something i counted on each year.  Sounds so pitiful but the older i've gotten the more I have relished in this long weekend the calendar lays aside to celebrate ME....oh yeah, and all those that serve our country like my own daddy!

So, this year I want to share the joy and put on a fun birthday sale shindig!

Enjoy my pals!  This sales on me....or for me??  not sure how that works if it's my birthday but i'm the one giving stuff??  Either way, have fun shopping!!


with joy~em

12 days into it....

So, I have been on the Arbonne 30 day Boot Camp plan for 13 days now and let me tell you that i feel pretty GREAT!  As i said last time though, I am a pretty conscious eater as it is so the sugar cravings haven't been an issue for me but even the slightest of cravings have been subsided during this program.

I am not one to weigh myself or be obsessed with body mass index and all BUT, I am going to the doctor today where I'm sure I will be weighed and will know for sure what I've lost thus far.  I do know that my pants fill a little looser and sleep has been a little better as well so that alone is worth every day of healthy eating!  

Just wanted to jump over here this morning and share THIS VIDEO {click on those words for the feed} that my sweet Arbonne mentor shared on our facebook page this week!!!  TRUTH!!!  


Hey there, healthy!

So, I have to confess before any of this info that I was raised to be a fairly healthy eater.  As a child of the 80s and a very "good food" conscious mother, there was no hope for me being hooked on bi-product chicken nugget happy meals or mashed potatoes from an Ore-Ida box.  Nope, never, not happening at the Ruff family crib.  The only time we ever "went out to eat" was on cross country trips in the family station wagon with wood grain siding and even then we were LUCKY to do that because my mother had totally thought ahead of us.  She had packed sandwiches the night before, complete with lettuce in a separate bag {so it didn't dare get soggy} and chips distributed in "baggies", not the easy pre packaged kind we snatch today.  We may get lucky and stop at a SERVICE station for a fun drink but that was only, and I mean only, if one of us had to use the restroom or my dad was so desperate for gas that he was already considering who would help push had he waited until the next exit.

i know it's hard but please don't be jealous!  and who needed to be facing forward when you could sit backwards....or on the floorboard to sleep?!?

i know it's hard but please don't be jealous!  and who needed to be facing forward when you could sit backwards....or on the floorboard to sleep?!?

With all that prefaced, life does happen and college does take a toll on our bodies....or it did in the 90s.  {I'm still not sure why these skinny little college co-eds don't take advantage of the freshmen 40 like we all did.  It truly was some fun times and we were all in it together!}  Looking back I'm pretty sure that my body was NOT a wonderland and the inside was screaming for some sort of cleansing that Jesus just didn't provide!

Fast forward to TODAY!  Today, I am super conscious of what I ingest, slather on my face and even feed my own children {like mother like daughter whether you like it or not, gals!}.  I'm thankful that I don't struggle with food battles because I had a mother and grandmothers that instilled upon me that true beauty was in an Oil of Olay bottle!  HA!!!  No, they raised me to believe that Jesus gave me self worth; not the size of my jeans, the color of my hair or the trophies that gather dust.  So, when I was asked by my precious friends at Arbonne to participate in the 30 day Clean Eating Boot Camp I jumped at the opportunity for several reasons.

First, Arbonne has been around for more than 35 years.  It is a company that I know a lot about and trust every ingredient they put into their products.  Second, getting healthy from the inside out is always a good idea and I will talk more on that as this challenge goes on.  And third, I have a daughter.  Silly reason maybe but I want her to grow with the same understanding that her outward appearance or size makes no difference in the end if her 'insides' are full of toxic ideas and negative perception of herself.  AND.....the metaphor for the win!  hee hee!


So, I will be blogging about my results, good and bad, as much as possible during the next 30 days.  I am not getting any endorsement for this.  It's more to keep myself accountable than anything else honestly.  I love the reps in MS for Arbonne and will support them til I die {but healthy though of course!}

Follow along for some good recipe ideas, honesty of sugar depravation and obviously the honesty of where I am these days when it comes to our image and how we need to turn the emphasis back to the heart instead of what fades away.

***ask me any questions you have too***

with joy ~