Thriving Thursdays 5: Not My Story. 

This is not my story.

Well, it is my story. But it’s not the story that I wanted to tell.

I have always craved a simple life. Not easy, not boring, but just simple. 

I have a “big personality;” I’m “bubbly,” as people like to say. And I can’t say that I disagree. However, I strive to be more toned down, more of a minimalist. I wanted a sweet family of my own. I had a plan: Married at a certain age, having kids by a certain age, living in a modest & cozy house out in the country, doing something that I love. Faith, family, friends at the forefront, and everything else would fall into place.

I have always lived healthily. I never thought I would be that girl, the one who has to operate at 100% every day even when she feels 25%, the one who has to cancel last minute for reasons outside of my control, the one with a chronic illness. I never thought I’d be the one walking around pricking myself, giving injections, wearing intimidating medical machines. I never thought I would be well versed in medical terminology, frequent the hospital, or truly feel out of control of my own body.

I did not do anything to develop Type 1 Diabetes. And I certainly did not want this to define me or be the story that I have to tell. I didn’t want any health struggle to have any part in my story, the story that narrates my life.

The truth is, we don’t always have a say in what goes into our stories. The Author of our lives dictates what is within our pages that make up our chapters; our chapters that make up our truth, our reality.
This is not the story I wanted to tell. Rather, It is the story that God wanted me to tell. He wanted me to bear this burden, use my gifts to communicate this specific message. He knew I had lots to learn, and this is how He taught me: through my struggles. Not just with T1D, but with everything I have gone through. He knew who specifically needed to hear my story. He knew who would be benefitted by me using my big personality in tandem with my experience involving turmoil and triumph in life in general.

Friends, He has a specific purpose for your story. Even if your story isn’t what you would’ve picked, even if your story feels like “nothing special,” it brings Him glory, it showcases your strength, and it encourages others around you. What good is your story if it’s trapped within? Who and how is your story serving? Not only will sharing your story help others, but it will be therapeutic for you. We can’t always choose what happens to us. However, we choose how we react to it. We can choose to sulk, or we can choose to shine.

 Here’s to hoping you choose to shine today!



Thriving Thursdays 4: The Importance of Friendship  

Life is hard. 

Life is easier with the right tools, and the right people. 

My best friend of 11 years just flew in last night from California to Alabama. It’s literally like no time has passed. We always pick right up where we left off, and we know each other and love one another on a level that is almost beyond words. I am blessed to have multiple friendships like this in my life. 

It can be dangerous when we get wrapped up in our own minds. We are meant to use those around us as a message board, as a release from our minds. 

So frequently, we put on this masquerade of “having it all together.” The truth is, we don’t always have it together, and that’s okay. It’s always refreshing when you have true friends with whom you can be your best and worst self around, and they’ll never judge you either way. That, folks, is a gift. 

Being apart is never easy. You do it because you have to; life takes us separate directions. But once you can get together, you feel whole again. 

God knew what I needed when he placed my best friends in my life. He knows where I have deficits, He knows my strengths, and, therefore, He knows who I need to have around me to reflect my characteristics and keep me “in check.” 

Very simply put, you should surround yourself with people who make you feel good. People who make you laugh until your sides are sore. People who cry with you, pray for you, and make your heart smile. 

Once you find this, don’t ever let it go. 



Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The temperature drops to 65° in the south, and all of a sudden, it’s now fall. Well, at least for the day; the 90° weather is expected to return later this week. 

I’ve been trying to be patient & wait to begin celebrating fall once it officially starts, but let’s be real here; this is me we’re talking about. The girl who starts listening to Christmas music in August. So yeah, this past Sunday, I made some fall treats. 

I lit my apple pumpkin candle, made my own homemade pumpkin pie spice, turned on my Christmas pandora station, and engaged full housewife mode. It. Was. Awesome. I have no regrets, and I’m not sorry.


Brian always knows when fall has begun in our home because it is initiated each year by the baking of my momma’s pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I have the fondest memories shoving them in my face each fall as a child, and every year that we’ve been married, I always make copious amounts of these babies from September through January. 

I figured it was time to stop hiding the glorious-ness that is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from the rest of the world, so I am sharing the recipe with you today!

I have created a graphic {scroll to the bottom} with the recipe that you can save to your device and easily access whenever, but the plain text is below for your reference. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice {I make my own & can it in a Mason jar each year}
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 stick butter, melted 
  • 1 cup chocolate chips {I use mini chocolate chips for a more flavorful bite}
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips, if desired {This is my secret weapon}

Heat oven to 350. Grease muffin tins or use paper liners {I usually use a mini muffin tin.}

Mix flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Break eggs into another bowl. Add pumpkin and melted butter and whisk until well blended. Stir in chocolate {& cinnamon} chips. Pour over dry ingredients and fold in with spatula until dry ingredients are moistened.

 Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes. {if you make mini-muffins it takes approx. 18 minutes, depending on your oven.}


I love these because they’re delicious, simple, & versatile. You can serve them plain, add a cream cheese frosting, or add your own flair {see festive Alabama football flags below; I can create these printable flags for any team as a free download, so please comment below if you want some to represent your team! You just cut them out & tape them to a toothpick.}


Please let me know if yall attempt to create them, & tell me what you think! I hope your family & friends enjoy them as much as I do. 




Thriving Thursdays 3: That One Time That a Four Year Old Taught Me About Life

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I’m not sure why this story has been in my head lately, but it really has.

When I was a preschool teacher in Ohio, I encountered many hilariously unique situations {I continue to encounter these types in situations but with toddlers in Alabama. Part of the reason I love my career is because I am never bored; those kiddos keep me laughing & on my toes.} This conversation that I’m about to share with you in particular continues to stay with me.

Kids are insanely intuitive. Most adults don’t even realize how much children pick up on. It’s quite incredible, actually. They’re like little sponges. They soak up everything they hear and see, internalize it, and believe or repeat it. Many parents have learned this the hard way, especially those who have let some special words fly in the heat of the moment. 😉 

Kids know that we’re busy, stressed, tired, and pressed for time. I didn’t realize how much they see this until it was brought to my attention by a 4 year old.

I was working on an activity with this sweet girl. We were just chatting, making small talk, enjoying one another’s company in a rare quiet moment. I believe we were discussing our favorite types of ice cream when she interjected, “Ms. Audra, why do grown ups always tell people that they’re okay when they really aren’t?”

…come again?

I was bewildered. I responded with some stammering, because it caught me off guard, and I quickly tried to fashion a direct, concise response. I believe what came out of my mouth was something along the lines of, “Well, I think they just don’t want other people to be worried about them.” 

She accepted my response, and returned to discussing ice cream.

Since this conversation occurred, I have pondered it frequently. It has stuck with me, and has caused a lot of self-reflection.

What’s the most common response to the question, “How are you?” Fine. Okay. Doing well. Peachy. Hanging in there.

Very rarely do you hear, “Actually, life is really hard right now, and I’m not okay for the moment.”

Bottom line: we usually answer insincerely. We all do it, I guess it makes sense, but why?

I have always wondered why. I think the “why” may differ from person to person, however, the underlying theme is the same: we are afraid of admitting defeat, of looking weak, of inconveniencing others. We shut people out or provide surface-level answers to avoid the human connection entirely because we fear it, don’t value it, or don’t “have time” for it.

It makes me sad how many great opportunities for community are missed due to this. If we were honest with those around us, we would be able to rely on one another more and utilize the strengths of those in our “circle” to just make life easier and more enjoyable. 

Just because you answer “How are you?” honestly, doesn’t mean you have to give the detailed description of your entire current situation. Some people may give one word as a response, others may unload their burdens. It varies from person to person, and the “How are you?” situation is just semantics that allude to a bigger picture: We are typically unwilling to accept help and rely on one another. Due to trust issues? Quite possibly. But whatever the reason, we are all in this life thing together.

We have all experienced really amazing times and really devastating times. It ebbs and flows. We are not meant to do this alone, folks. Lean on each other. Share whatever you’re comfortable sharing with one another. Extend grace when it’s needed. Listen. Actively love. We are so glued to our electronic devices that we sometimes forget there are real, human people behind the screens. Let’s reconnect. We can start small.

So I ask you today, friends…

Truly, truly, how are you?

kid president quote

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Thriving Thursdays 2: How to Stay Motivated in a Generation of Complainers

Motivation: our fuel for getting things done, accomplishing our goals, and following our dreams. In a generation where most everything is easily accessible, finding motivation is sometimes difficult. It’s difficult because motivation isn’t required as much. We can access the world at our fingerprints at any given moment.

Whenever something isn’t going our way, it’s altogether too common to just complain. Complain, give up, be miserable. Or complain and don’t give up, but be distracted from achieving your goals.

I find this incredibly unfortunate.

We’ve all done it; we’re all guilty of complaining. It is certainly okay and healthy even to express your frustrations sometimes, especially to your spouse or partner. But where it becomes a problem is when it begins to be a character flaw. When you complain so much that people begin to expect you to do it or people dread being around you because of your “leaky faucet” tendencies, then it has become a part of your character.

There is a difference between complaining and being a complainer. Sometimes life sucks, & complaining lifts that burden for a moment. It is problematic, though, when you can’t do anything without complaining. Complaining is often an expression of arbitrary frustration: frustration without specificity.

I developed a five step system that I follow to isolate the frustration and break it down into its component parts so that I can work through it. Sticking to this system has helped me to minimize my complaining, and to turn it into something more productive. I have decided to share this with you in hopes that it will resonate with you!

Step One: Establish your goals.

What is your mission? What do you strive to accomplish in this life? Goals can be made in many forms. It is constructive to have both short term & long term goals. I’m a firm believer in writing things down to commit it to memory or to make it more real! Writing down my goals is always an easy, helpful way to keep my head straight.

Step Two: Evaluate your roadblocks. 

What’s holding you back from achieving the goals you’ve made for yourself? This looks differently for everyone. Roadblocks can be actual objects: if you run track, failing to clear your hurdles can hold you back from achieving your goal of a lower time & new personal record.

Roadblocks also exist figuratively. Personally, my greatest roadblock is self-doubt & insecurity. Self-doubt has always slowed me down, and in some cases, blocked me from reaching my goals. I have a tendency to start out with something and give up because I’m afraid it’s not going to be the best or even just good enough. I frequently compare my work to that of others, and this throws me into an ocean of self-doubt {without a life jacket.} Insecurity tries to block almost every road I travel on.

Step Three: Troubleshoot.

Once you’ve identified your roadblocks, you’re able to troubleshoot. Troubleshooting is one of my most favorite processes. In fact, I have a special journal dedicated specifically to troubleshooting. Identify your roadblocks and write them down {or commit them to your memory; whatever works best for you.} Next, brainstorm about why these roadblocks exist for you, and what triggers them. Once you know what triggers your roadblocks, you can begin to work on developing an action plan for when these triggers arise {because they will.}

Step Four: Don’t be afraid to say “no.” 

Unfortunately, staying motivated and focused on your goals involve saying “no” sometimes, and it’s all about prioritizing. Sure, going to happy hour with friends sounds more fun than working late, but which will bring you closer to your goal of a promotion? Running on a rest day may make you feel more fit, but will it bring you closer to your goal of completing a marathon? Not if you overtrain and get injured. Saying “no” to some things in order to make room for others may seem intimidating or out of your comfort zone, but it is absolutely okay to put yourself first sometimes and to respectfully decline or postpone. I’m notorious for going 95 miles per hour with my hair on fire, so I am always working on saying “no” in order to find rest for myself so I can recharge & accomplish tomorrow’s goals.

Step Five: Always keep your “why” & purpose at the forefront. 

This step is always the most influential for me. I have encouraging prints and quotes hung around my house and in my car that empower me and keep me focused. I surround myself with positive, ambitious people to keep me motivated. I try to manage my time well, fill my head & my heart with loving, healthy thoughts, and make sure I’m investing in myself by partaking in hobbies and activities that recharge me. If you don’t invest in yourself, you will burn out. Whenever you hit *that* point in your career or your current season of life when you’re asking yourself, “why am I doing this?,” remember why you started in the first place. What provoked you to wind up on this path? Who keeps you pushing forward towards these goals? What is your ideal end result?

One of my favorite quotes has always been, “Commitment in the face of conflict produces character.” What makes up your character? Are you a complainer, or are you a dreamer & achiever?

I would love to hear your thoughts/stories/sentiments on this. Please feel free to leave me a comment below!

FREE DOWNLOAD: to download, click on the photo, hold it down {or right click} & select “save image.” All Thriving Thursday images created by Audra Smith of Shambly Chic.  

commitment character

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commitment character iphone

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Feel free to save & share these images…please use the hashtag #ThrivingThursdaysSC or #ShamblyChic!