Monday, November 30, 2009

School Days Memories

All I really need to know I did NOT actually learn in Kindergarten, but I learned some really cool things nonetheless! Recently, I was talking with someone (honestly, I don't even remember who) about the fact that I still remember so much about dinosaurs from what I was taught by my Kindergarten teachers. Can you believe that? Seriously. I don't recall reading another book, hearing another lecture, or watching another movie (other than Jurassic Park) about dinosaurs, but I still remember so much of that little Kindergarten lesson many years ago. That started my wheels turning...what other school days memories do I have? I began going through each grade thinking of a memory - some are educational, some are mischevious, and some are just purely delightful. But...I came up with one from each grade. I actually have several that I could have written for some years, but I kept my little log at just one memory for each grade. How about you? Do you have any school days memories that just really stand out?

Here's a glimpse at mine:

Kindergarten - I've already named it above. Dinosaurs must have fascinated me, because of all the things I'm sure I was taught in Kindergarten - this is the only one I remember.

1st Grade - I remember my teacher putting the word K-N-O-W on the board and asking us to tell her how to pronounce the word. It was on the board all morning, and we kept guessing and guessing until FINALLY - right before lunch - some smart boy in my class finally pronounced it correctly. I guess we were starting a unit on silent letters. Who knows? Ha! Ha! Get it? Who K-N-O-Ws? OK - moving on...

2nd Grade - I had a wonderful teacher that let me work at my own pace in my math book, because I loved math (at the time) and always wanted to work ahead. I finished it before Christmas, and she let me go up to the BIG 3rd grade hallway and ask one of the 3rd grade teachers for a math book to use for the rest of the year. I was so scared to go up there and ask, because I was really shy then. But...I did it!

3rd Grade - We got to write letters to our favorite authors, and I got a letter back from Judy Blume and thought that was the neatest thing in the world! This was actually the year I fell in love with reading.

4th Grade - I memorized The Gettysburg Address for extra credit.

5th Grade - I told my teacher that I saw her driving her car and asked if it was a Fiat. She appeared rather shocked and told me most assuredly that it was a Porsche! I still don't know the difference in cars.

6th Grade - I remember diagramming sentences over and over and over.

7th Grade - We dissected frogs in science, and I was the only one that got a female frog (full of eggs - yuk!).

8th Grade - This was a rough year. We moved to Florida, and my friends threw a surprise going away party for me. I ended up moving back 3 months later.

9th Grade - Driver's Ed. Driver's Ed. Driver's Ed.

10th Grade - I remember learning absolutely NOTHING in Biology class...not a great teacher!

11th Grade - I played the role of Mrs. Paroo in the The Music Man.

12th Grade - This was a great year, and I have LOTS and LOTS of memories. Perhaps one of the best was getting to help teach Spanish to 3rd graders at the nearby elementary school as part of an assignment for my Communications class.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Desert Wanderer

I'm a desert wanderer looking for an oasis. I know where the oasis is, but for some reason I tend to linger in getting there. The scenic routes are the ones I choose rather than the most direct avenues. I'm so thirsty, but I prefer to stick to wandering around awhile. Why do I do this?

Recently, I read a passage in Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest. One particular passage really spoke to me...

"In the beginning Moses realized that he was the man to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in the individual aspect, but he was not the man for the work until he had learned communion with God."

Ouch! That touched a little nerve. I'm anxious to be God's servant, but I spend more time wandering in the desert looking for the oasis rather than going directly to it via the pathway that God has freely shown me - communion with Him (through prayer and His Word). I'm pretty consistent in my attempts, but that time of sweet communion is often barren. My mind may wander. I'm distracted by everything and anything around me. I read the words or I'll pray the things I think I ought, but I come away still thirsty. It is at those times that I'm wandering aimlessly. I pray to be God's servant, but I don't always allow my time with him to be an intentional interrupted time of communion. Then...I wonder why He doesn't use me like I've prayed that He will. As soon as I begin to question it, He always reminds Him FIRST, then the rest will follow. As I do, my thirst is quenched, and I can begin my trek again...praying this time to not miss the next oasis.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

40 Day Challenge - Day 7

WOW! I knew this 40 day blog writing challenge would be difficult at times, but I never realized how difficult. I've just finished one of the busiest 48 hours that I've experienced in awhile.'s been great!

In my last two posts, I've been able to give thanks for many blessings as we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I've been able to share some of our Thanksgiving traditions with you. Now, just to give a brief synopsis of the last 2 days...

Friday morning began with a 4:00 am wakeup call. We spent Thanksgiving with some great friends that live several hours away, and as I mentioned earlier - Black Friday shopping is a tradition with us. Hence...the early morning wakeup. We departed the house shortly after 4:30 and didn't return until 12:30-ish. Found some great deals. Got lots of shopping done. Thoroughly enjoyed just being with some really fun people.

We departed our friends house Friday afternoon around 2:00, which should have put us home around 5:30, but we stopped several places along the way home to just look around and see what we could find. Those little detours put us home around 7:30. Oops! The friends that we spent Thanksgiving with followed us home and arrived around 9:00, because we were all planning to go find our Christmas tree this morning up in the Western NC mountains in "tree farm central". This has become another annual tradition - 4 years in a row so far!

We DID find a beautiful 9 foot FAT tree! I love those full and fat fraser fir trees (don't ya just love that alliteration...ha!)! Here are a few pics...

Hopefully, I'll have some pictures to post in a day or two of the tree all decorated. I love being able to decorate for Christmas!

Moving right along...after getting the tree, we had to run some errands and then drive an hour back home to get ready to go to my husband's work Christmas party. It's not often that we have an occasion to really dress up, and this evening we got to put on our fancy duds and have a nice meal with a great group of people. The highlight of the night was listening to the plant manager recognize my husband's work ethic and exceptional performance. He doesn't like to receive public recognition like that, but I was very proud of him!

Now, we're back home trying to pull out all the Christmas decorations and getting ready to put lights on the tree. If I get nothing else done tonight, I hope to have the lights on. We'll end up with about 1000 lights on the tree because of the manner in which I put on the lights. Sounds excessive...I know...but, I love the way it looks when finished.

Well, that's what I've been up to for the last 48 hours. I know this blog post is a bit of a ramble, but I'm determined to keep up with this challenge even it means that some days are not quite as thought provoking or devotional as I would like. Those days will return, but for today...I'm just giving you a sneak peak into my wonderful but busy life this Thanksgiving weekend.

I pray each of you had a blessed Thanksgiving weekend and had the opportunity to reflect on all of your blessings! Thanks for "stopping by" again today! You are one of my blessings!

Friday, November 27, 2009

List #15

Happy Friday folks! It's time for another of my favorite past-times - list making! In honor of this Thanksgiving week, I thought I would share some of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions - past and present. How about you? I'd love to hear some of yours. I love this holiday season!

Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions – Past and Present:

1. Pickled Eggs – it was the one time of the year we could expect my grandmother’s “famous” pickled eggs. When she stopped preparing a Thanksgiving meal – I tried to continue the tradition, but I’m pretty scattered with it and have missed a few years (including this one). They take a little while to prepare, so it can’t be done last minute – my favorite time to do most things!
2. Yummy casseroles – why is it that we tend to wait to make and eat some casseroles only at holiday time? Whatever the reason – I DO love green bean casserole, sweet potato soufflé, pineapple bake, corn casserole, and whatever else finds its way to the table.
3. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – no Thanksgiving is complete without the noise of the Macy’s Parade in the background. While I seldom get to watch the parade in great detail, I love listening to it while cooking.
4. Football – no explanation necessary – football is…well…simply football! LOVE IT!!!!!
5. Being with great friends – we’ve spent the last several years celebrating Thanksgiving with dear friends of ours (they might as well be family), and we tend to laugh and cut up constantly when we’re together!
6. The desserts – again, another one needing no further explanation. Pies, cakes, candies, more pies, cake and candies! Yum!!!!!
7. Going to get a newspaper early in the morning for the sheer purpose of reading the ads. We usually spend time scouring the ads after the big meal and make a game plan for the day after Thanksgiving shopping spree we also undertake.
8. Shopping on Black Friday - As much as it wears me out...I love me a good bargain!
9. The Turkey - the smell and taste of it. While we eat turkey at other times of the year, there's nothing like the smell of a turkey baking on Thanksgiving Day!
10. Watching the men come in with a deer or two after a morning in the woods. This happened last year...can 2009 by a two-peat?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving blog friends!

I really don't want to fill up this blog space today with a bunch of words or thoughts. I just want to take a few moments to publicly give thanks for...

My Savior - who died for me and loves me unconditionally and constantly pours out undeserved grace & mercy.
My Husband - who showers me with blessings, speaks words of adoration over me, and lets me know in even the subtlest of ways that I'm his girl
My Daughter - who brightens my day with her laughter, forgives my mistakes, and has gently taught me how a mother is to love her young for the last (almost) 13 years
My Friends - who show love, mercy, and kindness even when unsolicited and allow me to bare the depths of my soul while withholding judgment
My Church - that eagerly opens its doors to embrace the oppressed, the orphaned, and the widowed and has taught me how to worship in spirit and in truth
My Freedom - that enables me to worship openly, study God's Word visibly, and attend church freely
God's Word - that arms me with THE knowledge I need to get through each moment, each hour, each day, each week, each month, each year, and ONE lifetime
My Blog Readers - that continue to give me a reason for doing this "blogging" thing, that provide encouragement for me each step of the way of this journey and are willing to journey with me

What are you giving thanks for this day?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Biggest Non-Loser!

Disclaimer: This blog post may be anything but encouraging. If you're looking for encouragement today - maybe you should check back tomorrow. However, if you want to read the writings of a real woman with real struggles being really transparent, then you're in the right place.

OK...moving right along.

I just finished watching The Biggest Loser. This is the only television show that I watch regularly, and it almost always inspires me. I, too, have struggled with my weight all my adult life (and even throughout most of teen years). I've tried almost every diet out there, I've exercised, read nutrition book after nutrition book after nutrition book. As a matter of fact, I'm still waiting on someone to award me an honorary Master's Degree in nutrition! Anyway...while watching tonight's episode of my favorite show, I began feeling discouragement. As I watch this season's contestants get smaller and smaller as they near the finale, I watch myself lose less and less or sometimes gain. I've been doing what I know to be the right things, but it's not happening like I had hoped. I know that I need to exercise more and will do so as soon as my foot injury heals up. But, other than that...I feel I'm doing okay.

Several weeks ago, I began yet another weight loss journey. It was actually working. I set a goal to lose 25 pounds by Thanksgiving. Guess what? I've been stuck at an 18 pound loss for over two weeks now. I'm not budging from that mark, and I'm sure I'll actually gain a few pounds before the week is over. I continue to get discouraged over the lack of success, because I have a long way to go before I reach my goal!

Now, I know there are other issues that can affect weight loss. A sweet friend reminded me that stress can wreak havoc on dieting and weight management. My life has had quite a bit of stress lately. I also continue to suffer with foot issues - affecting my exercise program (or lack thereof). I generally do okay in the food department, but it's not appearing to be enough.

I really don't mean to complain. I know that's all I've been doing for the last few paragraphs. But, maybe just maybe somebody else is experiencing a similar frustration right now. If so...please know you're not alone friend! I promise I'm not going to stay in this pit for long. I guess I just needed to get some of these thoughts of frustration and disappointment off my chest in order to proceed to the next step. I WILL defeat this giant one day! This mountain WILL move! I WILL reach that place that God has purposed for me. While I know these things to be I'm just a bit low. I won't stay this way, and I hope I haven't let you down. Please forgive me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Nth Degree...

Being the competitive person that I am, seeing that I was 12th in my class at the end of my junior year in high school fueled an absolute fire in me! To me, that wasn't good enough. Don't get me wrong - I had no plans of being valedictorian or saludatorian, but being that close to the Top Ten and not being included really irritated me. So, I took the challenge my senior year to change that statistic. Did I succeed? Yes, I graduated 8th out of around 200! Woohoo! Go me! But, for what? I was mentally drained...tired of studying...had already gotten into my dream school, so what was this last "stamp of approval" going to get me? Burnout! Complete burnout!

Yes, I still went to college - several of them actually. I declared a major and would take classes to work towards that degree and then change my mind. Each time my life situation changed, I changed my intended course of study, causing me to have to practically "start over". I ended up racking up enough credit hours to easily have more than one degree.

For years, I struggled over the fact that I didn't have a piece of paper that showed I completed a degree. I felt like people would automatically assume that I was uneducated and "dumb". This feeling of failure has literally eaten me up through the years. So, in August of 2006 I returned to school - a local community college. I just had to have something that showed I finished something. I was still a single mom at the time, working full-time, and completely in over my head with the school thing. But...I did it! I finished my Associates Degree and graduated in May of 2008.

Next on the agenda...finish the Bachelor's Degree and then maybe a Master's Degree, and why stop there - let's go to law school and really show those naysayers! Who says I'm too old to do this now? Truth be told, I'm not too old. I've heard countless stories of people older than I am returning to school and fulfilling a life-long dream. However, the more I thought I wanted to pursue those dreams of old, the more the dreams vanished. Was I tired again? A little bit perhaps. However, that really wasn't the problem this time. I suddenly began to sense a different that may not be realized with a stack of paper that might require internal changes and the building of external relationships. So, what am I really trying to say with all this ramble? I began to sense God's plans for me after all. No - I'm really not ready to share them just yet, as they are still being worked out within me. But...if you hear me say nothing else...hear this:

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Regardless of what I think I may want, regardless of what a piece of paper says I have or have not accomplished, regardless of the endless hours I spend pursuing a plan that is of my own making - God's purpose WILL prevail. know what? His plan is always better!!! It's taken me a long time to let go of my dreams and simply pursue Him and Him alone. The more I pursue Him, the more He trusts me, and the more He reveals to me. I know who I am in Christ...I don't need a fancy piece of paper and years and years of education to show me that. I'm not saying that I'm done with school, but I could be. I'm just saying that I'm done pursuing the plans that I've made outside of Christ. Moving's all about Him and what He wants to accomplish in me. To Him be ALL the glory!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Laughed So Hard I Cried!

With each turn of my head, pairs of eyes were on us. Some eyes were smiling, some were glaring, some appeared puzzled, and some danced with laughter. Others appeared a bit weary and tired, but the eyes still stared. We could no longer simply hide out in our little corner of the local Dairy Queen. The hyena type laughter was simply too much to be ignored. Our presence was known! We had the giggles (actually - beyond simple giggles). We were laughing so hard - the tears poured! When was the last time you laughed like that? It's certainly been awhile for me.

We just returned home from a pre-Thanksgiving gathering with family in Virginia. We spent a couple days visiting, talking, eating, and laughing! The intense laughter, however, really began when we journeyed to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN to see the race track all lit up in Christmas lights.

My husband, his sister, her husband and I piled in the car and began the 4 miles drive-through trek to see over 1.5 million lights. It was absolutely beautiful and so much fun to see, but we seemed to find something funny about everything that night. You know how that is when stupid things all of a sudden become hillarious? Like the fact that I couldn't dim my headlights to park like the speedway wanted us to do, because I have a daytime running light system that won't shut off. what? But...that became the basis for almost all of the jokes the rest of the night. We really did have a great time, but we were quite silly.

Aside from the laughter, the highlight of the speedway adventure was actually getting to drive on "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" (the actual racetrack). Granted - I did get a little crazy when my car felt like it was going to flip over, but it was still a blast!

We finished off the night at the Dairy Queen, and that's when the laughter grew to the point that the "eyes" I mentioned earlier began to follow us. I don't even remember everything we laughed at, but I do know that it felt extremely good to do so.

I don't know about you, but I've had a rather difficult month with various issues. I've learned to praise God through those storms, but often-times that's much easier said than done. However, sometimes the storms seem a little calmer and perhaps not as alarming when we're able to invoke a little laughter into our day! I challenge you to allow yourself to be silly sometimes...even when you don't feel like it. Open yourself up to the kind of laughter that might even make you cry! Even more, allow those around you to get a glimpse of it - it might even make their eyes dance a bit too!

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." Psalm 126:2

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Forty Day Challenge - Day 1

I'm a numbers girl. I dig numbers. I love them. I study them. I often find even the silliest of significance in them. OK - I might be a little odd, but I like even numbers too. Ha! Seriously...I especially love how numbers are important to God. He's so purposeful and orderly in everything He does. Several numbers have great significance in the Bible...7, 12, 70 to name just a few, and my personal favorite: FORTY! Forty has long been recognized biblically has a very important number generally signifying a period of trial, probation, and testing. The beauty of the biblical forty is that this period of time generally ends with a promise or blessing. The tribe of Israel experienced the blessing of the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the desert. Forty days of flooding eventually brought God's covenant symbolized by the rainbow. Jesus was tempted by the Devil while experiencing a forty day fast in the desert. Christ appeared after His resurrection for a period of forty days on the earth. I could go on and on, but the point is the number forty is very significant.

So, what's a numbers girl like me supposed to do with this knowledge? Use it! I prayed that God would use that number in my life in some significant way. What would 40 days or 40 weeks or perhaps 40 years reveal for me? What discipline do I need to be obedient in for the Lord do a mighty work in me? I thought about another time of fasting, but I don't think that's it just yet. I thought about refraining from something (i.e. TV, Facebook, Twitter), but I don't think He's calling me to do that YET. It actually hit me this past week. There's one thing that I'm struggling to keep doing, but I feel like it's something that I'm supposed to be doing...blogging! That might sound so insignificant to some of you, but it's huge to me! First of all, I'm notorious for having all kinds of "great" ideas. I start many of them and finish few of them. Completion is very difficult for me...partly due to my perfectionistic personality where I'm constantly trying to make something better than it already is, creating many incomplete projects. I've seen that carry over into my blog writing quite often. But...this is something that I'm determined to keep doing. It's a place of release for me. I love being able to remove some of those crazy thoughts from head and put them in written form. I've been told by some of you that this blog is something you count on reading for encouragement or laughter or even conviction. While I'm very humbled to know that...I also feel a huge burden to keep it up.

So, that leads me to today...Day 1 of 40 days of continuous blogging. I haven't pre-written any, so I'm relying completely on God to help me do this. I just feel it's something that I have to do. I'm not sure if I'm trying to prove something to myself or to simply watch God work through me. He certainly knows that this season in my life is usually quite chaotic, so maybe that's exactly why He wants me to do it now. Who knows? But, I know this...I'd love to have you on this 40-day journey with me. I love reading your comments, emails, Facebook and Twitter entries. Keep 'em comin'. They certainly keep me motivated. And...just maybe...somewhere within the words that I write...just maybe...someone will be blessed. So, here we go...until blessed dear friends!