Saturday, December 10, 2011

French Influences for Christmas!

 ~Each gift is wrapped with  the thoughts of the one who will recieve....."if our hands are fully occupied with holding on to something, we can neither give or receive"~
 ~French Coffee in a beautiful French cup~
 ~Almond Cookies~
 ~A Gift should be wrapped up and special~
 ~Our French inspired Christmas cards~
~A Touch of Greenery~
 ~A collection of Santa's from around the World~
 ~These beautiful ornaments sparkle~
~Joy to the World.....Glory to God in the Highest!~
Jesus, the Savior..."For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And He will be called:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6
~Oh to be in Christmas!~
Those of you who follow my blog know, for sure, one of the highlights of this past year was visiting one of our daughters and her husband who live abroad in England!  England is a beautiful country and I can hardly wait to go again to London for the museums, the parks, the fashion, and the shopping, of course to see Kara and Phil!  As much as I loved England, I will have to say.....I fell for France!  The quaint villages sitting perfectly up on hillsides, the thrill of seeing Paris, the food, the people, the cafes, the parks,  the history, the art, the artist, the fashions.......need I say more?  I wish I had realized earlier in life how easy it is to travel abroad but life kept me very, very busy until I had a true and wonderful reason to travel sweet girl!

This year, in my home, I decided to use a few French influences to brighten our home!  I love, absoultey love being at home during December!  I love knowing that most of our children will be with us and that the preparations that I make will help them all feel special and feel loved.  Traditions are important in building bonds within families!  In France, Christmas time is similar, all about family and friends.  The decorations are beautiful, but the importance of helping the poor is very much a part of their Christmas celebration.  Giving to others is a large part of the French Christmas!  Also most villages and in many homes the Nativity Creche' has a place of prominence and children are involved in pagents and programs.  Midnight mass is a large part of the holiday for those of faith in Jesus Christ. The churches are filled with Believers at Christmas.  Many gifts that are shared are handmade with love and  include gifts from the kitchen,  shared with both family and friends.

One tradition that I enjoy is the sending of Christmas cards!  This year, I was inspired by another blogger with a French influence to make a few cards......"Joyeux Noel"!  I do hope you are blessed with a spirit of joy this Christmas.  Joy comes from our spills from a heart that is full with gratitude and love.  It comes from a heart that knows that God is in control of this world and that HE is fully aware of our circumstances, whether they are good or not so good!  God's desire is to mold us and make us into vessels that He can use throughout the world to bring both glory and honor to His Name!  There is not better time, my friend, than Christmas to share your blessings with others.  A kind word, a kind deed, a smile that says "Merry Christmas!"  I pray that your home and your heart are filled with love and most importantly the joy of the Lord! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sharing Love.....At Christmas!

In the beautiful little southern town of Fairhope, Alabama, Christmas decorations go up early and are carefully chosen and always beautiful! There is nothing more beautiful that the First United Methodist church's entrance to their sanctuary!  The doors are beautiful by themselves but when adorned with these beautiful wreaths, they are near perfection!  So lovely!  The Cross against a truly perfect blue sky also spoke of the reason we celebrate this Season of Love!  "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!"......all around the world!

I love the laughter and the joy found on the cherub faces, in the sweet and trusting eyes, and in the smiles of most every little child this time of year.  Christmas shopping is fun when we have enough time to search for just the right gift for the special loved ones in our lives, whether big or small.  We think of them, what they might like, what makes them happy and then search until we find just the perfect gift!  What is your idea of a perfect gift?  Think of the little children going to see Santa and sitting on his lap and whispering to him exactly "the list" of what they want him to bring on Christmas morning.  This little experience is a part of childhood that is priceless!  It is just a small window of time in a child's life.....then it's gone!  The pictures of Christmas mornings though last forever in a parent's heart.

Christmas in our home has always been a special time.  When our children were little, everything revolved around our activities at church.....the programs they were in, the ones that we, as parents were in, the music, the decorations, the tradition of reading the Christmas story from the Bible of God sending His perfect gift of Jesus to be our Savior!  As they grew and embraced the true meaning of Christmas, our focus changed from Santa to Jesus Christ. Many times, they were aware that not everyone has even a small gift at Christmas.  During this time, we selected an Angel from the Angel tree and purchased gifts to share with children who would not have a gift without the gift of others. 

 I do still love to decorate with our Santa's because Christmas, when I was a child, was filled with happy memories of Christmas eve and Christmas morning when Santa brought gifts. Today, when the little ones are in my home, they know that the navtity sets that I have of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and the animals are for them to look with wonder in their eyes, and to touch them and love them.  They are developing a love, a sweet love for Jesus.....thank you dear God for this wonderful blessing!

As we think about this season of Love and Peace and Joy, I hope that you are able and that you have opportunities to share something, no matter how small with others around you.  Giving freely to others is what life is all about and is what ultimately brings us the most joy in our lives and honors and brings glory to God!  He truly and ultimately gave us on Christmas His greatest gift of LOVE! 

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, patience: bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you so you also must do.  But above all these things put on LOVE, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Colossians 3:13

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting Ready for Christmas!

"Bring the Children".......those are the words always in my thoughts!  I love this season of gratitude, love, and joy in the world!  We are about to enter one of the most beloved seasons around the world!  Christmas is celebrated all around the world and each nation has it own customs and culture and all are to be cherished as families and for those who love children and all the celebrations that include them.

When my son, Steven was in the sixth grade, his teacher invited me to come and speak about Christmas around the world.  At the end, the children all enjoyed making an ornament from a European country and many of them chose Germany for the delicate hand blown glass ornaments.  The children painted them beautifuly.  This turned into a party for the children!  I always love to give a party at Christmas!  I want to make it a lovely time for the children so that they will remember this time all their lives.  With our own children, we always made the holidays fun with baking, decorating the tree, hot chocolate, egg nog and Christmas music!  These are traditions that I still love and cherish and are special memories I believe for my beloved children.  I am sure that you too have may traditions and are making Christmas special in your home!  It is just beginning!  Enjoy this blessed season when Angels sing and the Glory of the Lord regins around the world!  Joy to the World!  Let it begin and let it begin within our own hearts.......

I hope you enjoy these lovely photos that I have from France that remind me of Christmas.......I love white all year and a touch of red too, but especially at Christmas!  Enjoy!
~Hot Chocolate is the drink of choice this cool season!~

~This red door says....Come in!  I've been waiting for you!~
 ~My sister Pam enjoying the ambience of a Paris evening! A red scarf at Christmas is just the right touch~
 ~The combination of white and greenery is always beautiful~
~These little trees are a sign that Christmas is celebrated and all they need are a few little white twinkle lights~

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Invited Guest......

 Draped in an antique linen tablecloth, the circular kitchen table overlooks the kitchen garden.
The napkins with the monogrammed B are a new antique find!  I found eight perfect antique napkins for a bargin and had them mongrammed in an heirloom look! 
 My Grandmother loved pretty table linens, silver, and crystal.  So much of the entertaining that I do includes gifts that she gave to me a piece at a time.  She was a true collector!

In just a few days, families will start the journey home for the Thanksgiving Holiday!  I really did not give much thought in the past regarding the fact that Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday. Now though, because our youngest daughter lives in England with her husband, I am thinking about that a lot. I ask myself, do I miss her?  EVERYDAY!  However, on holidays when she is unable to be with us, then truly the missing becomes intense! Another daughter is coming home for Christmas and we will miss her too at Thanksgiving!  She lives in California!  I love everyone being together in their places at the table, but not everyone can always come.  Sometimes the distance is too great.  The times we are able to be together though make up for the times we are not together.  Memories are treasures in our hearts!

Who is invited to your table?  Is it just a select few or is your table open to others you might not know so well or perhaps you've been wanting to know better. You could consider making a special point of inviting them. A stranger could become a friend!  Once I was invited to a special dinner.  The elegant table setting was beautiful and tastefully designed so each guest could enjoy conversation and enjoy the evening.  I found my seat and stood at my place, waiting for others to join who were also sitting at my table.  Another guest approached the table and share with me that the tables were reserved and I needed to check which table I was assigned to then turned away.  I smiled and said, "I am at this table."  Uncomfortable, yes,  for a moment but it's fair to say I felt sort of sorry for that person, sorry that they had missed an opportunity to meet someone new.  A stranger perhaps.

Sometimes in our efforts to protect our territory, we could hurt others, even though the hurt is unintentional.  I hope we can remember how it feels to be INVITED, to be treasured as a guest, and then  to show that care and inclusion to our own guests and to our families. Our lives really are brief on this earth.  On Thanksgiving and during this beautiful season, I hope we can remember the meaning of the holiday~THANKS GIVING~ as it truly means giving, giving to others and giving thanks for our bounty of blessings and then sharing them with others along life's way!  Hopefully, this will bring you unexpected blessings in your home!  In the south of the US where I live we call this hospitality!

I hope you have a table topped with LOVE!
Happy Thanksgiving! 

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." Hebrews 13:2

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Mother

Mothering does come natural to most young women, thankfully.   I have been blessed beyond measure with the wonderful daughters and son that God entrusted  to our family.  I truly enjoy the joys each one of them give to me.  They are giving with love. time, laughter and interesting to converse with!  As we approach Thanksgiving, there are many blessings in my life because of their lives.  This has been a good year for all of them and the roads they are traveling are changing with new sights and new chapters.  We took them everywhere we possibly could as children and it seems all of them have acquired the love of travel and new experiences.  I am thankful to be a mother, their mother.  God willing, I hope to continue to love and encourage them and especially.....their dreams.  I happened upon this lovely little poem from Rachel Ashwell.  If you are a Mother or hope to be, is the highest of callings!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Black and White......Love It!

CoCo Chanel made black a 'love it' color!  Most women have at least one black dress in their closet!  I have seasons of black and seasons of white and then seasons of black and white combinations!  Coco Chanel wore black as a symbol of strength and freedom. I love that about her life's work.  Many women of her beginning era of design wore white....... and lots of it in clothing, hats, and jewelry! She sought to break that mold and settled on a more classic and simple design.....the classic black dress.  Behind this desire to be herself, she created an empire that is still inspiring young women of mind and of age! 

She began her journey with literally no resources other than her dream for a better life.  Her parents placed her and her sister in an orphanage in central France and it was there that her dreams took hold and began to unfold, she could see a better life.  Her circumstances were less than perfect but the strength within her fueled her passion to succeed and fueled her creativity.  She had a need......survival....and she was willing to work for it. 

The doors in the photos above were all snapped while visiting France and I am told that opening one of these beautiful French doors leads one into a beautiful inner courtyard full of beauty and promise of what is to come, once inside.  The opportunity comes when one opens the door!  As long as we are living, we should continue to walk through doors or we could miss the very blessing meant to be ours.  Like Coco, you just have to open the door!

Like her, there are times in life when we have needs that are daunting.  Most of us do at least once in life!  I believe no matter how great our needs or circumstances are, we have to give something out of our need in order for life to be multiplied.  This kind of giving involves faith.  When we give out of our own need then we activate the miracle of God flowing with His supply back into our life.  Your giving causes something according to God's seedtime and harvest to come back to you.  He will provide just what you need at just the right time. 

 Perhaps you are in one of those places..... but believing as you cast your bread upon the waters, through the doors and into the future that life will be multiplied beautifully and that it will be clear, cut out in a lovely pattern of black and white! Blessings of sweet friend!

~My dream black and white dress~

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healing Waters

Water means blessing for me.  Our earth is made up of 70% water and our bodies are greater than 90% water.  Water is my drink of choice too!  Watering my plants and flowers gives me great joy!  Water is free when we walk to a stream or river or spring to find it.  We must search.....but not far for healing times of need.  We know we can only live so long without water.  Our thirst has to be quenched.  For me, the same need cries out from my soul for spiritual watering. "As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for You, Oh God." Do you have a need today dear one?  May I encourage you to turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.  May we turn to Him for healing.  It doesn't matter how much money you don't need any to stand under the "fount" (Jesus)    Isaiah 55:1 "Hear, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters, and he that has no money, come you, buy wine and milk, without money and without price."  He has covered every need my friend for you and me today!

There are those days when only God can lead us "beside the still waters."   I am praying you have some still waters in your future!  Blessings of joy to you this glorious day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Friendship Time....

"She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."  Proverbs 31:26~31  She was indeed a true friend!

I have been busy, thinking on friendship and the joys and blessings of true friends.  In our times, if you have the good fortune of a few, then indeed you are blessed!  As a woman, there are only a couple of other joys that fulfill us so deeply.  Our need is to give and receive good conversation, encouragement, and lots of laughter!  Our words can fall out carelessly and still we feel accepted and loved unconditionally by a true friend.  Friends share our hearts, our fears, regrets, our joys, and close us in a safe place...... in their hearts. 

Memories often bind good friendships.  You know, the time you had such a deep need that words did not even have to be spoken to be understood, the friend just did what true friends do....understand!  Friends like this are treasures.  No advice....just love and shared kindness (maybe a kleenex or two).  Often times, the friends we choose or the ones who choose us tell which way our lives are heading.  Are we looking for a friendship that just offers us a good time or are we looking for a friend who can sharpen us as a person and pour a joyful spirit into our spirit?  I hope you have a friend like that.  One who makes you a better person and your life richer and stronger.  

This morning, my table is set for a friendship breakfast.  Simple, yet filled with love and hope that God will supply all our needs for the day in friendship and in our lives.  Enjoy the blessings around you dear friend and invite some "girlfriends" over for breakfast and coffee!  May your spirit be filled until it overflows with goodness and kindness and LOVE!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SUCRE`...........Sweetness in New Orleans

 ~The entrance says it all.....Bonjour~

 ~Cupcakes, just enough to invite you to indulge~

Sweetness and near perfection is all about the delicious little sugar shop in New Orleans, known as SUCRE`! New Orleans is America's attempt, at its best, of the French ways of life and this little sweet shop does an excellent job of creating ambience and sweet treats!  They are located on Magazine Street and the location above in Metarie, Louisiana!  If you visit New Orleans you should go because it is like walking into a little shop in France!  I was pleasantly suprised!  The packaging is beautiful too!  Display case after display case invites you to ooh and aah and you decide on your selection.  We had a hard time deciding!  What impressed me the most was the decor` and the quality of the items for purchase.  It is apparent that much thought and work went into this successful business.  I was happy to spend a few dollars there indulging in their treats!  So fun too!

Sweet treats and sweet people leave us with a blissful feeling!  They open their hearts and lips and good words flow out....sweet words.  They are the ones who love and encourage others naturally, sort of like Angels among us!  "Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do HIS WORD, heeding the voice of His words."  Psalm 103:20  These people (like Angels among us) have a purpose in the Kingdom of God for sharing and sprinkling sweetness and goodness.  We can glean from the Words of God in the Bible about Angels and seek to emulate and learn from their purposes and spread His words and His strength when we are called upon to share them.   In our lives when we seek to spread His words in our generation there is a sweet aroma that we are told goes up before the Throne of God.  Our lives have to be balanced with the duties that we have each day and also the filling of our spirits.  Most of us do not just wake up one day and become sweet.  Our hearts have to be repentent of the sin in our lives and we have to seek to confess this sin to our loving and forgiving God.  He isn't seeking perfection, He is seeking a heart that seeks Him and a heart that walks with Him. This is important if we truly desire to become "sweet". 

May I encourage you as a new week is beginning to carve out a little time to think about where your life is heading. I plan to do this too!  We all know people who are hurting, who are wounded, who need to be treated sweet and who need to be "bandaged up".  When you've spent time with the Lord, you are able to spot these people and reach out and touch them with a little "sugar and sweetness".  Sort of like SUCRE`    May God lead you to those people and may you respond.....a sweet smelling aroma will rise before HIS THRONE!

Luke 10:34  "So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him."  Dear Lord, may You use us in this way.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Modern Designs....for the Girls.....

Family get togethers are wonderful times! In these gatherings we can be generous with our hospitality, time, and our love when we know our family is coming for dinner. These times are investments we make to bond our families together, creating last memories and traditions that bind us for our lives presently and the following generations! Our time in making our house a" home" is never wasted. We cherish the words "remember when" often followed by laughter and joy! As a young couple, my husband and I didn't have much in the way of material blessings! We had a small house, very old, borrowed furniture, gifts we had received as wedding presents and each other  and lots and lots of fun!  He had just graduated from the university and I was in my third year. By the time I finished with my university degree we were beginning our family! I enjoyed making our house a "home" and found items within our budget to create a nice interior (to me anyway). I enjoyed sewing, even then, and my husband recovered some furniture we were given so beautifully! Our home suited us well. We entertained my in laws quiet a bit because they lived nearby. I can honestly say that they were lots of fun. I think they enjoyed our friendships too. Our family gatherings were always memorable.

The tables are turned now and I am the mother in law and my daughters are enjoying making their houses a home. The four girls all have their own unique style. I love this about them. Their phsyical looks are different and their styles of decorating are somewhat different, but in a good way. I am blessed to visit each one in their homes from time to time. I so wish selfishly they all lived nearby but that is not workable right now. Their jobs or their husbands jobs have them in other cities and one in another country (England). Our son has a neat place too and it's really cool! He is as neat as a pen and has even acquired a few antiques.   

Our youngest daughter, Kara, has just moved to a new city near London so we've been exchanging ideas about her decor, what she would like, and how I could help her with a few pillows, etc. I am loving the ideas she has so I will share them below. She likes a very modern twist! The thrill of my heart though is hearing and seeing her desire to make her house a "home". It is my prayer that your home is filled with joy and gladness...then comes  lots of love, kindness, acceptance, warmth, and sincerity. The most beautiful interiors will be cold unless the candle of love is lit. Take time, dear friend this weekend to fill your heart with God's Word. When the blessed Lord is present in your home then your life is truly full and your needs will be met, even if your need is just a new pillow to spruce the place up! A modern design for sure but in my humble opinion it is very modern and satisfying to be Praising God for His Son, Jesus, who is more than able to fill the soul with joy and gladness!
~Kara sent me this photo of what she likes from an Esty sight!~
So pretty and in good taste.....

~These three photos all came from the October issue of VERANDA magazine~
Seems like she is right on with her decorating desires!
We must get busy.....soon!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Starfish Designs.....

 ~Isabel modeling a little dress called "Happiness"~
 ~Love is best when shared with a "twin" friend~
~Isabel modeling "Joy"~
(that she is...a joy)

~Isabel modeling "Cuteness"~
(at its best)

As the seasons change and fall is upon us it is time to also change our wardrobes for fall!  I love the summer months for the glorious weather of where I am privileged to live but I do love fall clothes! Fall comes slowly here, a little later than the rest of the US!  I am a "winter" person with my own "coloring" so I enjoy winter clothes, the colors, the styles, and the time of the year! I enjoy what the fall and winter seasons and the time spent with family and friends.  So, for children's clothing, the season is changing!  They grow so fast and rarely can a child wear the clothes from the "fall or winter" season of the year before! 

Children's clothing can be purchased inexpensively today but there are still those times when as a Mom you want something just a little extra special for Sundays or special occasions such as birthday parties or evenings out for a special dinner!  Even children enjoy these times that make sweet and special memories!  As a Mom, I cherish the memories that I have hidden in my heart of my children's most precious moments of life.  Many of these involved a beautiful new dress for my girls or a cute little jacket and slacks for my son, Steven! 

The little dresses above were a labor of sweet love for me.....last week I spent the time sewing for the little girls in my life adorable grandaughters! Isabel was a sweet model and Olivia will be receiving hers by the end of the week and Ava's is on the way too!  Luke's shirt was a gift for him to feel "special" too!  Children keep us humble, keep us real, keep us realizing what is truly important in life....LOVE!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Treasures....from Chateau neuf de pap

 Anyone who knows me well knows that sewing is my passion!  I purchased this for 10 Euros!  I wished later that I had purchased the other two the gentleman was selling!
 As as seamtress, I know the hours it took this dear lady (bless her) to make this beautiful French hand sewn bonnet for a little French newborn.  The lace, the fabric, the work is perfection....still!  It has to be at least 50 years old.  I am so blessed to have this in my collection!
 As Kara and I approached Chateau neuf de pap, we noticed this flea market immediately.  Oh if we had a way to bring more of these treasures home.  The linens were amazing and beautiful, flawless and many were monogrammed!  If you visit France make sure you find the flea markets and have cash in Euros!  It will be worth the time you have!
 ~Every corner was a photograph~
 The photo was taken from the top of the village as we walked up to an old castle, although only the shell is still partially was magnificent!
 ~An interior view of the castle~
 ~Can you imagine driving your car down this beautiful street, narrow as it looks it is possible....I think I actually drove down this street.....or maybe one was not easy (nerve racking)!  Just ask Kara! But....we did manage it!!!
 ~I love this picture of Kara....she really wanted to go to Chateau neuf de pap for the vineyards.  We traveled there on a Sunday, it was Palm Sunday, so the vineyards were closed but she was able to shop for a wine for her first anniversary gift to Phil for their celebration!  As I look at this picture I see her reflecting, and thinking how much of life is before her......such a wonderful experience with her!
~Serious shopper here~

This past week I have enjoyed sewing again....serious sewing for my sweet grandaughters!  I thought about the joy that it brings me to see someone wear something that I have made.  I also am blessed when I see the finished product of curtains that I have enjoyed sewing or any sort of home decor that I am blessed to make for someone!  Yes, the little things of life give me joy!  Now, I am an educated woman....I earned a university degree but the areas of life that bring me the most rewards are the happiness I see or have a part of in anothers life. Life is not about degrees, or jobs, or praise from another.  It does not matter what you have the ability to give....just give it!  Give to someone, something! Your time, your love, your patience, your encouragment, your hearfelt prayers.   You willl be rewarded, time and time again in little suttle ways. Your life will be richer as will theirs.

For months, no years, I dreamed of traveling to places I would only read about, rearing a large family takes everything you have (in good ways and no regrets).  My children now live in wonderful places for holidays and for visiting!!!  Last April, when I was honored to visit Kara and Phil, I spent months preparing and reading everything about the regions we were planning to visit and what interesing history they would offer.  One of the places that Kara wanted to travel in France was Chateau neuf de pap in the Provence region of France.  We were spending a couple of days in Avignon, France so we decided to go for it!  We laughed as we drove along and realized reading the map and following the signs was much easier than we had expected.  We enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the countryside and had little idea of what was ahead for us that special day.  I loved it as we drove into this beautiful village set upon a hillside that we unexpectly drove around trying to find a "safe" place to park and came upon a wonderful flea market!  The first pictures above of the "bonnet" say it all!  Finding that treasure would have been enough but the joy, giggles, the blessing that we received that day will be a treasure in my heart forever!  I loved that day with sweet Kara!  The privilege of purchasing that little bonnet will one day come full circle when Kara can place the little bonnet on her own little daughter!  God is so good to give us treasures!  "Trust is the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5~6  Do not be afraid to take chances.  Ask for God's guidance and He will guide you in paths He has planned for you.  It may takes years....but He will bring His plans to pass.