Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

I can't believe that this year is over. I've always heard that the older a person gets, the faster time flies, and I believe that because it seems like just yesterday I was looking back over 2010 and asking, "Where did it go?" Of course, this is coming from the girl who graduated high school 15 years ago but still feels like it is yesterday.

2011 has been a good year for the Bates family. Every year, I make resolutions, and every year I break them. I don't know that it is necessarily the whole keeping them that is the most important thing. I generally set pretty high expectations for myself, so showing just a little improvement is better than nothing. This year, I vowed I'd lose weight. I did that, although not quite as much as I'd have wanted. I resolved to be a better Mom and wife, and even though I still struggle with my temper and patience, I feel that I did better on that front as well. Caleb helped me resolve to listen more, and I feel like I did some better on that. I prompted myself to exercise more, and until about mid-October I did just that. I always feel better when I am active, and I know that in 2012 that's going to be another one of my focuses. I wanted to read my Bible through... I didn't do that, but I did complete several in-depth Bible Studies and I also worked on scripture memorization. No, I didn't memorize the 24 verses I set out to... but I did memorize bits and pieces of them, and these come to me when I am in need. I am more grateful, more positive, and I did laugh more this year (when you are around Caleb Bates, it is kind of hard not to).

With that being said, 2011 was a success. Looking back over the year, I had some spiritual growth. I realized that God loves me no matter what, and that He wants a relationship with me. I realized that everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is to get up and keep going, that His mercies are new every morning (from Lamentations 3:23... my favorite verse of the year!). I grew emotionally. As mentioned before, I think I am more patient and understanding (my boys may disagree). I also realized that it is okay to be sad sometimes. It's okay to be upset and angry. It's not okay to let it linger and refuse to get over it.

Some of the things I loved about 2011: both of my grandmas turned 80 (Mamaw Na in January, Mamaw Bert in May) and we were able to give them both birthday parties to honor them. There's nothing like being with family and celebrating. June brought a trip to the Outer Banks with most of the Clemons Clan, and more family time. While there, I crossed parasailing off of my bucket list and hung onto Wallace's hand as tight as I could. (Kind of fitting, cause it's his hand that I usually hang onto when I am scared). July took us back to the beach with Helen, William, Greg, and Regina. August brought another year for me at HCTC, and along with that a new online component to the nursing program. I enjoyed the teaching online, although I will admit it was a struggle for me at first. September and October were filled with living for Friday nights, with a few volleyball games thrown in for good measure. I got to walk on the field with my girl, who grew up on me overnight. November... basketball, where it "isn't my first rodeo...and it isnt' going to be my last." We have been blessed to have a great group of girls going along for the ride. It also brought Wallace joining the Reserves as an officer, and a monthly trek to Louisville for him. Throw into the mix some great concerts (Chris Tomlin, JJ Heller, Toby Mac), backyard fireworks on the 4th of July, a couple of snow days, and several just lay around and do nothing days, some great books (The Help, The Hunger Games, Courageous, Unbroken), a hike at Natural Bridge, the purchase of a new treadmill, and Santa proving that I had in fact been a good girl with the gift of a Kindle Fire.

So, with that being said, Thanks, 2011. I'll be ringing you out with the Jackson City Lady Tigers. I'm excited about 2012. More resolutions to break. More to cross off my bucket list. More fun with Caleb and Wallace. A wedding for one sis, and high school graduation and college for the other. More of me, getting better... because I've heard that getting older really does mean getting better. Like a fine wine... not that I know anything about wine =)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Memories

Every year, I say this, "This was the best Christmas ever." And every year, I truly mean that. Christmas is such a special time of year, and as I get older, it is even more so. I now recognize that the Christmas season is about so much more than presents. It is about family. It's about laughter. And most importantly, it is about the birthday of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the reason that I can smile and remember...

Obviously, I can't remember Christmas at a young age. I can't remember certain presents from when I was little, but I can remember Christmas Eve at the Griffith house, with me performing concerts using my handmade wooden microphone and stand courtesy of Papaw Paul, of endless games of Scrabble and cards and of Grandma Bert squealing as she opened her "big" presents. (Grandma has always loved Christmas time).
I can remember going to Papaw Barlow and Mamaw Carrie's house and receiving an envelope with a crisp $5 bill in it. (Worth a million dollars when you realize that they lived on a fixed income and there are a whole lot of us Grandkids to pay...) Of Papaw Barlow turning his hearing aid down so that he can watch wrestling uninterrupted and of making the circle around their house a million times, of sitting on a hot vent to warm up until your bottom became TOO warm, and of Grandma's candy jar that never was empty.

Christmas time at Grandma Na's when it was just me, Jen,and Glenn and we got tons of presents from everyone, and the year that the wall was knocked down and we started drawing names because of the three precious babies. Of Carol of the Bells and fake snow on the windows and the manger scene and the Village that is still set up. Of hiding in Mamaw's closet in the "secret" compartment.
Of climbing on Mom's steep roof to hang Christmas lights and of going to the Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect tree and of baking cookies and coming downstairs to home-sewn stockings hanging by the fireplace stuffed with goodies.
Of Santa making visits and the year that Caleb thought Santa looked an awful lot like cousin Glenn, of last minute Walmart runs and Legos and his excitement when seeing all of the presents under the tree.
In all of these memories, though, there is one common denominator. Love. Love between my parents. Love between my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Love between my in-laws and Wallace and Caleb, and the love of a perfect God who knew that He wanted us to be in relationship with Him, just like I'm in relationship with my family. Like a good Daddy who works for hours assembling the perfect toy, our Abba Father worked up a plan to redeem us so that we can forever be with Him. That perfect plan came in the form of a baby in a manger over 2000 years ago, of shepherds who wouldn't have been the most likely to receive the best news first, but somehow did through a Heavenly proclamation, of a young teenage girl and her older man who believed the unbelievable. And I can't help but think that He is watching us and delighting in our happiness this Christmas, just as I do with Caleb. Thank you, Lord, for these memories, and for my loved ones that You have blessed me with.
For unto us a child is born...Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Do...

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin

Twelve years ago, I walked down the aisle and married my best friend. I'd loved him for three years, a lifetime, it seemed. Now, it seems like yesterday. Yes, we've argued and fought. We've slammed doors and I've thrown things and there were times when I really wondered if we'd ever get that thing called marriage figured out. I know that we will have days when we still don't have it figured out, but on those days, I just have to remember...
A phone call asking me if my little boyfriend needed to be cuckoled. A first date when I was too nervous to eat and you were too nervous when I asked if I could sit in the middle of your truck. The look on your Mom's face when I told her you'd made me watch you eat instead of paying for my food. Our first trip to Lexington and you buying me perfume and a watch just cause you wanted to see me smile. You dressing up for a juvenile high school prom and counting out change as we went through McDonalds to share a Big Mac extra value meal. Rainy day Sundays after church spent watching football and napping.
Freshman botany classes where you studied like a mad man, and American Government when you didn't have to... Polo cologne... long weeks when it seemed like you'd never make that late night drive home from Ohio. Mark McGuire hitting homeruns and just missing seeing him break the record. Long car trips to Belfry and Gatlinburg where I inevitably got us lost but we had fun singing along to the radio anyway. John Grisham's The Client...
You being late to the wedding and telling Jordan Bellamy to make sure he held open the door so you could run out the back and Alex and Brayton fighting over your ring and you telling Alex that "Stone Cold is never doing that again." standing in the snow locked out of the car and our first married fight. Snow days and basketball games and trips...And did I mention ballgames?

Caleb. The look on your face when you found out he was a reality. His first ultrasound. Picking out a Pooh bear outfit to bring him home from the hospital. Figuring out how to put the car seat in your truck. You so scared and wanting to fight the doctor when it took him so long to get there. A million and one cappacinos from Central Baptist Hospital to keep you conscious. How his personality is so much like yours... never meets a stranger. Laughing over how mean he is... because he gets it from you.

How scared I was when you wrecked... you laying in the ER with your face all cut up asking me if I could still love you. Not knowing what to expect and thanking God that He kept you safe. Seeing how it's made you a better husband, a better father, and better person. Someone who never takes a minute for granted.

Twelve years (fifteen if you count our dating) is a long time for making memories. You have made me laugh, you've made me cry, you've made me furious... but you've also made me so very proud and amazed. I've said it before, how it is funny that God could make two people who are so very different work, but I think that's exactly why we do work. To be totally sappy (I can see you rolling your eyes)... "You Complete me. You had me at Hello." This may not be a Hollywood love story, but I'm so glad it's mine. Love you!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

1,000 gifts... or Maybe Just 10

I'm reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. It is a lovely book, full of big words and complicated thought processes that come down to one simple context: gratitude. The whole theme is how we are the most full when we are thankful, when we are fully living in the moment and appreciating those little things around us. I've tried to be more thankful. Through November, I really did try to post one thing I'm thankful for... and there are so many blessings that I can't name. But deliberately live in the moment, and truly be grateful? That somehow seems out of reach, to be 100% present all of the time. However, her words on the screen of my Kindle make me think that maybe, they aren't just for her; that maybe those special memories can truly be mine, also, if I'd just learn to appreciate. To hold fast to the NOW instead of the Hurry Up or the to do or the got to get it done. So, today, on this mid-week day, are my gifts...
1. Wallace's warmth when I crawl into bed late at night with cold feet.
2. Rain on a tin roof coaxing me to sleep.
3. Rain drops dangling on the tree limbs outside my office window at work.
4. The creaks of the floor as I walk from my office to the printer. Yes, my building is cold, but it is an educational marker in my community and I am blessed to be part of it.
5. Brand new planners, free from ink or markings or appointments. Bright blue ink pens to start marking it up.
6. Sheepskin Ugg boots against my feet.
7. Belly laughing from little boys who can't tell a lie because the twinkle in their eye give them away.
8.Mcdonalds French Fries and ketchup, piled high on a tray to be shared
9. Words on a page or a device, for me to devour and lose myself in
10. The hint of snow in the rain, telling me winter is finally here.
What are your everyday gifts? To be continued...

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-Ephesians 5:20

Monday, December 5, 2011

Immanuel: The With Us God

Isaiah 9:6-7- For to us a child is born,to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

The Jews were looking for a Messiah. A Savior. Someone to overthrow Roman government and save them and redeem them. They were looking for a Ruler, who would establish His kingdom. What they got instead, came in the form of an innocent, humble baby. Born to a teenaged mother and a confused earthly father. Born in an animal's home, with only rags to wrap Him in to keep out the cold. Immanuel. God With Us... or the With Us God.

Today, I've been thinking a lot about this with us God. I've really been thinking of Mary. I can't imagine how she would have felt on this night so long ago. This close, her belly would have been large with child. She probably couldn't get comfortable if her life depended on it. Exhaustion would have been a normal state, most likely. Add to that the whispers of those around her. So many who probably didn't believe her story, who doubted what she said, who might have even thought she was crazy. Talk about teenage drama! And then there was Joseph. What a guy! Standing up for his beloved, having faith that the angel was right, and that this was the plan... THE plan.

The plan. For the With Us God. A stand-in for our sins, one who had to be tempted as we are, but without sin. Tempted and trialed by poverty at a young age. Danger enough to make his parents flee to a far off country. Learning at a young age that He was different. Human rules didn't necessarily apply to this Young boy... but still... the Word made Flesh. Tempted by the devil. Hungry. Thirsty. Ridiculed by His own earthly family and so many others. Then, suffering persecution, hatred, scorn to die on a cross for my sins. And Yours. The God With us... the God who died FOR us... because we were unable. Yes, He will be everything that the Jews were looking for when He returns to rule His kingdom. He will be the Prince of Peace. He is our Everlasting Father. He is a Mighty God, and a Wonderful Counselor when you have problems. But today, tonight, in this moment... He is Immanuel. Right here with us. In the midst. Thank You, Lord, that Your death ripped the veil and I have access, and that I can call on You whenever, wherever. How amazing is Your plan! God With Us... Grace, personified.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sucker for a Love Story

A couple of years ago, I gave in to the temptation and read the Twilight series. I didn't want to. Didn't think I'd like it, even though I had always enjoyed Anne Rice books growing up. However, like many others, I fell in love. Not necessarily with the vampires or the werewolfs, but rather with the love story itself. There's Edward, the vampire, who loves Bella so much that he leaves because he knows he's bad for her. There's Jacob, the werewolf, who comforts her but then steps out of the way when Edward comes back. Team Edward or Team Jacob... I found myself pulled in two directions, because they both had such redeeming qualities.
So tonight, I found myself in a dark theatre by myself. Wallace and Caleb were having a Daddy-Caleb day but were gracious enough to let me bum a ride to the theatre. And there I sat, as Bella walked down the aisle and married the love of her life, knowing the repercussions. I'll admit, I even got a little teary-eyed throughout.
One line really hit me. Edward told Bella, "No amount of time will ever be enough with you, so let's just start with forever." The rest of this evening, that line has gone around and around in my head, because in our society, "forever" doesn't really mean that. It saddens me to think about divorce rates. I know there are perfectly good reasons for divorces, and many of my good friends and family have went through the pain of messy break-ups. However, I'd like to say that as a true romantic, I still believe in happily ever after. Wallace sometimes tells me that's one of my weaknesses, but that's ok. Because I like to think that it makes me look past his faults, because he's still my knight in shining armor. (And don't get me started on his faults). I like to think that if he were as romantic as Edward, he'd say the same words to me, but I guess I'll just have to settle for him twirling with my hair before we go to bed at night. And that's ok, because I have faults that he has to look past, too. That's the difference between storybook romance and real-life relationship. Real-life relationships are a struggle, a give and take where you have to sacrifice and put up with some things that you might not like. Sometimes you have to change the way you do things or look at things or respond in certain situations. And sometimes you have to sit through hours of scouting ballgames when you'd rather be at home reading a book (although I have gotten smart and I now take the book with me... the best of both worlds). On the other hand, Wallace has had to sit through his share of chick flicks. The moral of this story is, no matter how hard it gets, or how bad we've gotten, life is better with him by my side. It might not be as exciting as vampires and werewolfs fighting over me... but that's my idea of a storybook romance. <3

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, and Slow to Anger

I have always been a temperamental person. As a young child, I loved to stomp and slam doors. As a teenager, this behavior continued, but was usually followed by long periods of sulking where I hated the world. And sassy??? It should have had my picture next to the word in the dictionary. I apologize frequently to my Mama for my behavior.
As I've gotten older, I've gotten a little calmer, but certain things still push my buttons. I get angry when I see someone being treated unfairly. I get angry when I see someone being hurt. I get angry when Caleb smarts off or doesn't listen or when I am stressed out and impatient and allow myself to react. I get angry at Wallace... well, a lot. And what always makes me even madder at Wallace is that I like to verbally spar, and he... doesn't. I get angry when I feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I get angry when someone hurts someone I love.
My first reaction when I am angry? You guessed it right if you said spout out at the mouth. I want to tell everyone. I want to make the injustice known and hopefully have someone agree with me. My second reaction? To run it into the ground. Over and over and over. I hold grudges, even when I know I'm not supposed to.
This goes strictly against what I'm supposed to do. In James 1:19, we are instructed to be "Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger."
What, God??? Are you serious???? I'm supposed to sit quietly while I listen to what others say... often when what they are saying is far from the truth and reflect their version of the story. When what they are saying hurts the people I love... or me? When the whole time that I am TRYING to maintain my calmness while I listen inside my head I am screaming, "BUT"... Yep. Quick to listen. Because there are two sides to every story. And everyone has the right to speak their peace. And because often, when you truly listen (not just to the words, but to what they say), you'll really hear what a person is saying. And maybe what they're saying isn't what you thought they were saying at first at all.
Next, we're supposed to be slow to speak. I think this means we're supposed to think about what we say, and how we say it. In a world full of instant access, social media and tweets and status updates and emails, I think this verse is never more important. Because once words are spoken, or typed or sent, they can't be taken back. And words hurt.
Slow to anger... I think this is last because IF we are quick to listen, really listen to others, and IF we are slow to speak, allowing our brains to process what our hearts are screaming, we CAN be slow to anger, because we are given the opportunity to respond appropriately.
I'm not saying that I have this down pat. Far from it. I'm not a good listener; in fact, I'm often formulating my counter-attack in my head while the person is speaking. I still run my mouth, and use that tone that grates on Wallace's nerves. And I still get angry. In fact, I got angry tonight over a situation that I shouldn't have. Anger isn't a sin. Jesus even got angry; think of what he did when he found them selling in his Father's house (Matt 21:12) Actions that are rooted in anger sometimes become sin. I think this is why God brought this verse that I read the beginning of the week to mind. Not all battles are mine; in fact, none of them are. My job is to do the best I can to be a light in this dark world, and to show love even when it seems like it's hard. So Lord, help me keep my ears open, my mouth shut, and my heart on fire only for You.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Caleb... isn't that enough?

Nine years ago today Wallace and I were changed forever. For 5 years, we had been Lauren and Wallace. We enjoyed basketball games, watching football on TV, going to movies every weekend and sharing Papa John's pizza so hot it burned the roof of your mouth, and sleeping in on Saturdays (when I didn't have to work). Then, at 543 PM on November 6, 2002 all of that changed. At this time, a 7 lb 9 oz bundle of joy with chubby cheeks and dark hair came to be, and life as we knew it changed...

That Caleb Bates! He was trouble from the beginning. I spent a couple of months on bedrest because of blood pressure problems. Then, a night in the hospital when my pressure spiked and I was having contractions. We got sent home just long enough for Daddy to go to Taylorsville to kill a deer, then back to Lexington we went. I was induced at 7 in the morning, and had a pretty good go of it. Until he started having decels. They put that oxygen on me and started flipping me left to right... I'm not an OB nurse but I knew something was up. And my doctor would have to be in surgery, so some guy we didn't know came in... to a Daddy who thought the doc was going to miss the whole thing.

But wasn't it worth it???? That little bundle of joy that was so precious. He loved to snuggle and be snuggled. He loved his Daddy, and would cackle in laughter once he got old enough to know how silly he was. He thought "Mami" (Kami) hung the moon, and loved his "Monk". He liked to ride the riding mower with "Mike" and was the shining star of his Papaw William's eye. As he grew, he loved cars of any kind, dancing and music. Swimming and legos and playing in Fort Caleb. Jumping in mud puddles and deciding that maybe Kami didn't hang the moon... but Holly did because of her Sims game, or maybe Greg because of driving games on his computer.

When I was pregnant, I prayed for a little boy. Always an introvert, I prayed that he would have his Daddy's personality. and he does... just like him. (Um, a lesson... be careful what you pray for...) Never meets a stranger. Can... and to anyone. But so full of love for others. Full of curiosity.

It amazes me how two people as different as me and Wallace could have made something so perfect. It just shows how God works... how He knows. Jeremiah 1:5, "Before you were formed in the body of your mother I had knowledge of you..." Psalm 139: 13-14, "For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." There will never be another Caleb. Funny... smart... an electronic genius. I don't know what this world will be like when Caleb is my age. I have no idea what my smart, funny child will grow up to be. I do know that God has His hand on Him, and He has a plan for Him. Tonight, I'm so very thankful that God chose me to be this little man's Mom. Happy Birthday, Caleb! May God bless you with many, many more... and may you have everything you could ever want in life. I know you'll have all you need... because His grace is sufficient.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Ever get in a funk? I've been in and out of one all week. The weather has been rainy, the leaves have fallen off most of the trees, and it just looks sad outside. I've not felt well, and this has translated to me being grouchy and nasty and pretty much miserable.
I was complaining today about just how miserable I was and Wallace reminded me, "You have a choice to make. You can either choose to have a good day or choose to have a bad day. It's up to you." Those words have come out of my mouth many times when talking to Caleb, but I needed to hear them today. I'm still not in the best of moods, but I realize that he is absolutely right. I've got too many blessings to stay in a funk for long.
The devil doesn't want us to realize that. If he can keep us down,m then we can't do good. We can't freely accept the grace that God offers us, and if we can't accept grace, we can't extend it. So today, even in my nastiness, I'm choosing... to be blessed.
I'm blessed because I had a good trip to town with Wallace, and even though I sometimes think he pays me no attention, he does. I'm blessed because he loves me even when I don't love myself.
I'm blessed because I have Caleb, who is too smart for all of our good. He infuriates us both on a daily basis, but there's just something about that smile, that twinkle in his eyes, that makes everything all better.
I'm blessed because I took a 4 hour nap today. Sometimes a little rest is just what we need.
I'm blessed because I have tomorrow as a Sabbath day. I'm fortunate enough to be able to attend church and not go in fear.
I'm blessed... because I'm rich. Not necessarily in earthly things, although God is good and provides me with all I need. But I'm rich in family, in love, in grace and mercy. So tonight, as I get ready to lay my head on the pillow, I'm going to remember these things. I'm giving thanks, knowing that tomorrow will be a better day, because His mercy is new every morning. Thank YOu, Lord, for new mercies.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breathitt: Bloody, Beautiful

I'm from Breathitt County. It's a large county land mass, with a small population that is becoming even smaller. It's one of the poorest counties in the nation, in the heart of Appalachia, where we're known for our drug dealing and our illiteracy and our government dependence. But tonight, in a gym on the historic campus of Lees College, we Breathitt Countians gathered to celebrate our heritage... a sold out crowd... and it is one to be proud of.

I have always been proud to be from Breathitt County. As a lover of history, I have found our stories fascinating. We were founded as a county in 1839, when wilderness still overran Kentucky. We were a resilient people, men and women who lived off the land and faced hard times but did not give up. Our legacy includes a history full of railroading and lumber. We were at one time the home of the largest sawmill in the world. We were a hub of activity when the railroad first boomed in Eastern Kentucky. And we were notorious for our fueding and fighting. This earned us the nickname of "Bloody Breathitt." This fearless fighting may have led to us being the only county in WWI to require no draftees. We have always had a military history to be proud of.

In the play Breathitt: Bloody, Beautiful, all of these facts were touched on. I was especially partial to the scene where the newspaper boys told of JB Marcum's death... such cute newspaper boys were never seen, I'm sure. But the ending of the play tugged on my heartstrings as well. This scene depicted a young GW Arrowood writing a love letter to his girl during WWII. This young GI was killed in The Battle of the Bulge in Germany. Only 19, he left behind his Mam and his Poppy, several older brother and sisters and nieces and nephews, and a little sister (maybe two) at home. One of those older brothers was fighting in the South Pacific when GW was killed. One of those little sisters was my Mamaw... and she can still tell you how her Mam passed out when she got the telegram and her Poppy ended up sick, I think even in the hospital. But she is proud. This is one of the first stories I can remember my Mamaw telling me about her family. I've visited GW's gravesite, and can only begin to imagine what it was like for his family. What it was like for so many families, whose sons (and later daughters) paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

So yes, Breathitt County's history is bloody. Our present at times is sad and troubling. But I am proud to be a Breathitt Countian. I am even prouder of my son, who finds this past to interesting. It is only by recognizing our past, where we came from, that we can hope to go further. Yes, improvements definitely need to be made, but programs like this are a start in the right direction. If you're young, and your grandparents are around, ask them about where they came from. You might be surprised to find out the strength and resiliency that is your legacy!

Much love to Janie Griffith, OT Watts, Laura Thomas, Grace Warrix, and all of the cast and musicians of Breathitt: Bloody, Beautiful. A special thanks to my favorite newspaper boy, and to Joe Hamblin, whose portrayal of our great-great uncle brought tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ode to My Students

Today, on facebook, a post was circulating. It reads, "I am a nursing student. I study more than I sleep. I am never "done" with my homework because there is always more to do. I cover about 500 pages of info per week and I am expected to retain and recall it all at any given time. I may only go to class or clinical a couple or a few days a week, but don't let that fool you, I am always a nursing student with work to be done. I am giving up my time with family, friends, and myself to learn how to save other people's lives. Please support and encourage that. If you are a nursing student or you know and love one, you know the drill - Re-post"

I am a nursing instructor. I'm up all hours of the night working up lectures so I can assign homework. I have to cover those same 500 pages of info, and try to figure out how to present it so they get it and can retain it and recall it. I am always a nursing instructor... I also give up time with my son and my husband to help teach someone how to save someone else's life.

But here's the deal. I have support. I have a great group of faculty members to work with, to bounce ideas off of when I'm not sure about something. I have an understanding husband (most of the time), and a family tree full of grandparents, aunts and uncles willing to run with Caleb to make sure he doesn't have to miss anything. Some of my students have noone. They are mommy and daddy; they HAVE to work while they go to school even though they know it's not best because they DON'T HAVE a choice... the bills have to be paid. They have to try to process all of this information while they worry about the kid's homework, the electric being on, whether the internet is going to go out before discussion board is going to go out, and who's going to be there to tuck their babies in at night while they are at clinical until midnight.

I could be cavalier. I went through nursing school. I studied my brains out for two years, spending many nights crying my eyes out because I had checkoffs and I was scared to death. My husband sacrified and worked two full-time jobs, plus the National Guard on the weekend. But I choose not to be cavalier. I instead choose to be empathetic. I know they struggle, and I can't imagine how it is for some of them. I hope they know I'm there for them. If I can't be empathetic, how can I teach them to be a nurse, where empathy is such an important characteristic.

Tonight, on my way home, I was frustrated because class didn't go well. I know they were frustrated, too. I sometimes doubt myself, thinking "Who am I to be doing this?" But I believe God has a purpose for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). If I can impart just one thing on my students, I hope that it is the realization that everyone is human. Everyone needs help. And caring is the best thing to do when sometimes it's all you can do. So hang in there... keep putting those hours in. Keep sacrificing. Someday, hopefully, you can look back and I can say, "See, I told you so"... but I promise, I'll do it with a smile on my face.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun

Tonight, I walked across the football field at Breathitt High School. I've stood on it before in recent weeks, for spirit lines and to cheer on our boys in blue... but tonight as I walked onto it, I was taken back... to a time where the grass was new and the stadium was newer, when the cheers were coming from me, when all was right with the world because the Bobcats had won again and I had a handsome fella in a bright red Mark III truck to go home with (or at least to go through the McDonalds drive-thru and count out change to share a value meal, then watch Sports Overtime before he drove me home before curfew).

Memories on that field... of running through the sprinklers on a hot July day with my best friends only to have Coach yell at us. Of seeing Coach hold up a state championship trophy and dedicating it to all of Breathitt County. Of pep rallies and hanging signs and fixing cups in the fences... of having the band sing me Happy Birthday on my Sweet 16...But earlier memories, too... of climbing under the bleachers of the old stadium and pretending it was my house, of kicking the metal on the bleachers of the old stadium as my brother ran for a touchdown his Senior year... in the only win of the season, against Knott County... A lifetime of memories... or at least28 years worth (Mom started coaching when I was 4... I seriously don't remember a time before it...)

And a time, 15 years ago, when it was me as a Senior. 15 years is a long time, yet to me it seems like yesterday... except for:
A marriage to that handsome fella mentioned before... we still sometimes count out change at McDonalds, but now it's for chicken nuggets for some little guy we picked up at a hospital.
10 years of nursing under my belt, and 5 years of teaching...
time drawn close to God... seeing three of my four grandparents turn 80, losing countless loved ones, and thanking God each day for the moments He gives me with those I love.
Life... fast paced, always on the run, hectic and crazy but beautiful because it's mine...

So tonight, as I walked out on the field surrounded by those I love, the Great Wallace Bates, Caleb, Mom, Dad, Holly, Grandma Bert, blessed to accompany the girl I'd packed on this field so many times before, I looked up at the stands and remembered... and realized that I wouldn't trade a thing. In the past 15 years, which seem as if it was just yesterday, I've been so blessed. It's true, time does fly when you're having fun... and I'm thanking God for each minute.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Grace= Mercy,clemency, pardon... a manifestation of favor, especially by a Superior. Favor or goodwill. UNMERITED. Freely given... because that is who God is. "The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love."- Psalm 145:8

I've been thinking a lot about grace today. First thing this morning, I attended a Bible Study at my church... I had to do a makeup because I teach on Monday nights when they meet. This Bible study is "To Live is Christ", by Beth Moore, about the life of Paul. The lesson today was about his conversion. He, who was the greatest persecutor, the "chief sinner" (1 Timothy 1:15... Paul's words, not mine) later become arguably one of the best preachers ever, establishing 4 churches and writing much of the New Testament. He was a man who could appreciate grace, because he recognized that he didn't deserve God's love. Completely unmerited... but planned. "But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me[a] so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles."- Galatians 1:15-16. Yes, God's grace is free to us... in a way. But it comes with the ultimate sacrifice... of our life to His. What a tradeoff it is, though! And when we accept Him and strive to live in Him, through His grace, He is revealed to us... so that we can proclaim the good news. Not all of us were called to be preachers, so how do we proclaim the good news? By showing Christ in us. By giving grace.

You'd think that starting my day off with that realization would make it go smooth, right? Hardly! I went to teach a CPR class, couldn't find a parking spot, had to drive around town 5 times, then walked up a hill lugging my equipment to find that my room wasn't set up and I really had no idea where I was supposed to be. A ticking bomb going off in my head... the thought of grace nowhere to be found... Thank You Lord that even when I don't show grace, You nudge me that I should...

Grace for Caleb when he whines about homework and doesn't put his shoes on when I've asked him 569 times. Grace for Wallace when he just wants to go deer hunting instead of doing what I think he needs to do. Grace for the person who cuts me off in the parking lot. Grace for the person who drives 30 miles an hour when I really need to get home. Grace for the person whose opinion I don't agree with. Grace when all my plans go amuck and I'm left trying to figure out what I'm doing... Grace. Because I've been given grace, I'm supposed to give it out. One last meaning of the word grace? Elegance or beauty of form... pleasing or attractive quality. I may not be the most elegant person, but when I show grace, I am beautiful... inside and out. Beauty from ashes... because of His grace. =)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Counting my Blessings

I am exhausted tonight, and really have no idea why, yet I feel like I should compose something short. So tonight, as I sit in my bed typing away, I am thankful for:
Caleb Bates and his laughter, his hugs and kisses, his facebook posts and his tweets saying he loves me, arguing over homework because at least it is time together, and him choosing to go to church over a ballgame. Being able to sit next to my Dad at said church service.
Wallace playing with my hair as we get ready to go to sleep.
My Kindle, full of books that I never have time to read, tempting me away from work and duty... after all, I have to do something to wind down, right? A job that I enjoy, even as I procrastinate grading care plans, and one that I feel I can make a difference. Patient students and co-workers who are more like family than friends.
Peanut butter milkshakes from Spencer's Dairy Bar and Brown Butter Cookies from Yoder's.
Hot bubble baths with Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice bubble bath from Bath and Body Works.
Football on Friday nights.
I could go on and on... but won't because I'm really wanting to finish one of those books. I guess the most important thing I'm thankful for is that even in my bad times, I'm loved. Loved by family. Loved by friends. I think I'm loved by some of my students... but above all, I'm loved by God. No matter what. As I sat in church tonight, one verse really struck me. It's found in Mark, Chapter 10, when Jesus is addressing the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler has asked what he can do to get to heaven, and Jesus rattles off the commandments to him, which he affirmatively agrees he has followed. Then, verse 21, ESV: "And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing..." Jesus looked at him. IN his imperfection. Knowing he wasn't willing to give up all that he possessed. But He loved him anyway. I'd like to think that He looks on me, and loves me. Lord, help me make You smile, and show You that love in return through my actions. Thank You for my many blessings. <3

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Permission to Rest

I've always been one of those go-get 'em girls. The more activites, the better. It started in high school, when my goal was to have the line behind my name in yearbook be one of the longest ones. Extracurricular activites? Sign me up for whatever. The more I have written in my calendar, the more important I must be, right? This mindset continued throughout college, throughout work... volunteer work, committees, running here and there to make the days go by faster. At the end of the day, my head hits my pillow... and I am out like a light. Physically, mentally, emotionally drained.

Yes, I enjoy being involved. And there are a lot of causes near and dear to my heart that I could never give up. Church. Relay For Life. Zumba (even though I never get to go anymore). Watching high school football, volleyball, basketball. Running with Caleb. Work (maybe I could give it up, but I think I like to buy things too much. Too many books. Too many e-books for my Kindle... so I'd better make sure that's something I don't leave out).

But today I learned that it's okay to sit still. To allow myself to enjoy the sunshine and wind blowing, the feel of a little boy's hand in yours as you traipse along, just enjoying walking for the sake of walking. Of allowing yourself to read without feeling guilty. Of taking a warm bubble bath without thinking of the million things that need to be done when you get out.

Yes, my to do list is still there, and it is growing as I look at the second half of the semester. Lots to do finishing up, and a new curriculum for next semester has to be worked up. Plus a promotion notebook that takes hours to assemble. Tonight, though, even as I worked on stuff, I've allowed myself time to think. Time to laugh. Time to just... BE.

God created the Sabbath day as a day for rest. Tomorrow, I'll be going to church and watching Caleb play two flag football games. I've got care plans to grade, lecture notes to tape, and emails to send. Even as I work, though, I've discovered that keeping a restful attitude... approaching one thing at a time... and remembering who is ultimately in control will see me through. One day at a time, minute by minute, hour by hour. And in the end, knowing that it's all His... every second.

Be still, and know that I am God... Psalm 46:10
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and He will. Psalms 37: 5 TLB
Come to me and I will give you rest -- all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke -- for it fits perfectly -- and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; Matthew 11: 28-29
Rest for my soul... even when I don't have rest for my body. Thank You, Lord.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Love One Another

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you"
John 15:12
Love should be easy, right? All rainbows and sunshine, laughter and good times... and it probably was for Adam and Eve. But we live in a fallen world, a world full of sin and darkness, a world full of disappointments and hurt. A world that it's easy to get our feelings hurt, even from a simple misunderstanding. Harsh words get said, even when we don't want to. Irrational thoughts take over, and it becomes all about what we want... our feelings, our needs. Even when we love, sometimes we don't LOVE. That may not make much sense, but it is because of our fleshly tendencies.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy, and is not proud. Love is not self-seeking, and is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love protects, trusts, hopes, and perserveres. How often do we love like that? I am guilty, DAILY, of not loving as I should. I make mistakes. I mess up. I get angry, and am selfish without thinking. Me, who is supposed to be the adult, act childish. But more and more God's calling me on it. He's making me feel guilty. He's calling me to be more patient, more kind, more in control of my feelings. And while I may not be successful, I recognize that I am trying. The thing is, even when our feelings may be hurt, we still feel better when we truly love. When we care more about the other person than we do ourself.

There are different kinds of love. The love a Mom feels for a child. The love a wife feels for a husband. And then there is sister love. I've been so blessed with two wonderful sisters. I wasn't always the best example, but I have learned so much from them, and am still learning. And this is when Christ's commandment comes to play. Loving when you don't want to. When your big sister hits you in the head with a baseball bat. When you have to share a room with your little sister. When you grow up and are adults and you say mean things to each other. Loving one another as Christ loved us is about putting someone else before yourself. I'm sorry, girls, that I don't always do that... but wouldn't the world be a much better place if we all did?

Happy Birthday to my little sis, Kami. I love you more than words can say. And to Holly, all I can say is... WOW. I want to be like you when I grow up. Thanks for putting up with me all these years... and thanks for LOVING me.
Love isn't always warm and fuzzy... but in the end, it's all we need. <3

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Great To Be a Jackson Tiger

Today's lesson:
I have one boy. A very rowdy boy at that. A rambunctious, mischievous boy. I'd be lying to say that I had never dreamed of pink dresses and hairbows when I was pregnant, but Wallace wanted a boy and that's what we got. Not my little cheerleader...
However, I have been blessed with 30+ girls. Loud girls. Giggling girls. Girls that treat my son like a little brother, and don't hesitate to fight with him as such. Being a coach's wife isn't easy... those girls get to go home and don't have to listen to him complain until practice the next day, when he's settled down and not upset. I, however, get to hear all about it. Over the past few years, I've learned more about volleyball and setting, man to man and zone defense, and practice drills than I ever wanted to know.
But I also get to see a unique side of my husband in this. This side is the man who doesn't sleep well the night before a big game because he wants them to play so well; who doesn't sleep well the night of a game, win or lose, because he's running it back through his head to see how he could improve; the side of a person who goes 110% because he wants them to succeed not just on the court, but in life. Scouting. Game tapes. Volleyball and basketball 24/7.
And tonight, I saw yet again the man I fell in love with. No, Jackson may not have won, but he's still proud. Over the years, Wallace has learned that there's always a positive side, even in the losses, and he chooses to focus on this. Yes, he may yell some... and stomp, and pace the sideline like a maniac. The opposing team's crowd probably think he is an idiot (I have questioned this myself...) However, my coach, unlike many I've seen in the past (and I've seen a lot... I've basically been raised in a ball gym) respects the other players. He never hesitates to tell them they played well or brag on them. And he loves his girls. Loves them like a father. These girls are the daughters we don't have. So thank you, to all of the parents. and to the girls. Once again, you've made me proud to be a Jackson Tiger.
And as for that crazy coach, there's just something about it... Overzealous, yes. Loud, yes. Sometimes embarrassing, definitely... but I wouldn't have it any other way. Today, I learned that seeing someone you love do something they love makes you love them just a little more =)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Measure of Faith

Faith... Have Faith. Keep the faith. Walk by faith. Faith is knowing that something is going to happen, without having no way of knowing how it's going to happen. Faith can move mountains, right? With God, all things are possible. Nothing is too big for God... but that's for Billy Graham, right? Or Beth Moore? Or my preacher, or Sunday School teacher, or the little lady in church who has been a Christian forever that everyone asks to pray for them because she's got God on speed-dial. But for me? Imperfect, impatient me? How can faith be for me?

Well, it's simple, really. That's what is so cool about this whole relationship thing with God. Nothing hidden or secret. In Romans 12:3, we are told that every man is given a measure of faith. EVERY MAN... and woman. This means me. This means you. We're also told that without faith, it's impossible to please God. Now I don't know about you, but pleasing God is definitely something I am interested in. But having faith, and keeping faith, is something that so many of us struggle with, because we make it more complicated than what it really is. Our guidebook, the Bible, tells us that "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." So how do you get faith? Reading God's Word. Listening to it. Practicing it. Seeking His face and asking Him to give you Godly wisdom and knowledge.

Then...this is where our part comes in. Once you've got that Word embedded, and you understand it and think about it, you have to... ACT ON it. That's right. You have to step out in faith. Trusting God, even when you don't know how. It may mean a new job, or giving advice to a friend that you aren't sure about giving. Maybe it's trusting that He's going to take care of you when you lose your job or get scary news from the doctor. Acting on faith, though, means that we are on the offensive. We aren't just sitting there waiting for things to happen. We're researching options and looking for answers and MOVING. And when we move... God meets us there. He's already there, waiting, and has paved the path for us.
No matter how insignificant your life may seem, you can have that faith. Because God loves us no matter what. Jesus performed so many miracles in the Bible... these miracles were significant. The people He performed them for were significant, too... even though we don't even know their names. Yet Jesus took time for them... He thought they were worthy. Just like He thinks we are worthy. We just have to have faith to believe...

"Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace... The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him."- Romans 12:3, The Message

Habits are Hard to Break

Lesson for the day? Habits are hard to break. We all know that, right? Ask anyone who has tried to give up smoking, and they'll be able to attest to this. Or any drug addict. Or someone like me who is addicted to Diet Coke and Chocolate. No one is going to argue with this. I have a lot of bad habits. I procrastinate. I eat junk food. I am addicted to Facebook. I chew on ink pen lids, even though as a nurse I know how nasty that is. The habits I'm talking about, though, go a little deeper. This habit is one that goes back to my childhood, and my mom and dad will agree that it is a bad one. I'm coming clean, here, y'all.
I AM A YELLER!!! (Note the uppercase letters. Yes, I did just yell at you. I was making a point... yelling is what I do.) It started at a young age. Stomping. Slamming doors. Screaming when I didn't get what I wanted. Oh, it lay dormant through my mid-adolescent years... namely because I was giving everyone the silent treatment. It came in handy when I was a cheerleader and also when I worked with the elderly who were slightly hard of hearing. But right now, it is causing me trouble.
My husband hates it. My child gets nervous because of it. And I don't even realize that I do it. I yell when I get excited. I yell when I get mad. I yell when I'm anxious because I'm running late and I can't find my car keys and Caleb is wanting one last hug. I yell in defense when Wallace questions me or argues with me or sometimes just speaks to me.. yep, I yell... and they react. More anger. More frustration. More chaos in our already chaotic, run until you collapse in bed at night world. NOT what I intend to do at all.
Habits are really addictions, or learned behaviors. What do you do to break them? Learn new behaviors. So what I've learned today is: I've got to change my reactions. Become a little more soft-spoken. Not react... or at least not overreact. Speak deliberately... AFTER I've thought about what I want to say. Count to ten. Read my Bible more. Pray. Blog about it. Above all, open my heart to His Spirit... because it doesn't yell.

"Then he was told, "Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by."

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. "- 1 Kings 19:11-13, The Message

Lord, help me remember this... That sometimes the quietest response is really the loudest, and that my passion can be demonstrated apart from yelling.

Monday, October 3, 2011

It Takes A Village

One of the blogs I subscribe to is doing a 31 day challenge.  They are writing on one topic for 31 days... I don't think I know enough about anything to write about it for 31 days, but I do learn something every day... so that's going to be my theme.  31 Lessons Learned. 
Today, I learned that I am blessed that I have family.  We might not always get along. Sometimes my husband may not always listen to me like I'd like, or Caleb may not pay attention to me like I'd like (are you seeing a theme here?) Sometimes I get a little crazy because we all live in a row and everyone knows everyone's business... but I am blessed to have someone care about my business.
Tonight, Caleb had flag football practice.  I had to administer an exam.  Wallace had a volleyball game.  Tomorrow, Caleb has play practice and a flag football game.  I have clinical.  Wallace has a volleyball game.  But I have a brother and sister-in-law willing to run with him.  And a father-in-law who's going to go sit in town all evening long so Caleb can do what he wants to do.  Not to mention a Mom and a sister who have pinch-hit almost every week this semester.  So, yes, they are up in my business... but my business couldn't go on without them. Caleb wouldn't be who he is without them. 
Sometimes family is difficult.  It's not always pleasant.  But they are mine.  And I love them.  I'm blessed because they are there. I realize this not just because they are there, but because I have realized they won't always be.  As I am writing this, a family in my church is facing a potentially life-threatening diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  They are scared and grieving.  I am praying, and believing that my God can do miracles.  But above all, I'm thanking God that for this moment, those near and dear to me are mine.  He understands family, because He is our Abba Father.  Thank You, Lord, for all of my family. 
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-- Psalm 103:17-

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Do you love me, Mom?

Tonight as we were driving home from church, Caleb asked me if I loved him.  I had just gotten finished telling him what a delightful night I had had with him. I responded quickly with an "Of course I love you."  To which he replied, "Does God love me?  Even when I am bad?"  Whoa... where did that come from, little guy?  From the inane, human emotion that if I'm not good enough, noone will love me?  From feeling like love from someone has to be wrapped up in what I do, not from me just being?  From some inner sense of self that equates importance with action?  Heavy stuff for a almost 9 year old... and sadly, we don't grow out of it. 

I lose my temper and then feel like a failure. I can't say no, become overwhelmed because of all I am doing, and find myself cutting corners on the important stuff like reading my Bible and journaling, only to find myself miserable as I spiral downhill. I pick fights with Wallace and Caleb just because I don't feel good about myself.  All of these things can be considered "bad"... yet God loves me anyway.  Sometimes, even when I don't like myself.  I am confident that God loves us even when we are bad.  1 John 4:16, NIV "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."  GOD IS LOVE... He IS.  This means that He can't NOT love us, because love is Who He Is.  We KNOW and RELY... have you ever thought about where you'd be if not for God's love... I have, and it isn't a pretty thought. 

So, to answer Caleb's question... Yes, God loves you even when you are bad.  He doesn't like your behavior, but like any good Daddy, He's there to kiss and hug you after the spanking.  It's our job to in turn love HIm... the greatest commandment.  Love Him with EVERYTHING... heart, mind, soul, strength.  Thank You, Lord, for being love.  Help me to love You and those around me. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

What are you afraid of?

I've recently begun a book called What Women Fear by Angela Smith, and the author requested that we blog on our fears.  As I am somewhat new to the blog world, I thought this would be a good opportunity to put my fingers to tapping and join in on this linked up incourage community. I've got a lot I could say on this subject. 

What am I afraid of?  Snakes.  Bugs.  Dark nights.  Thunderstorms (although I am slowly getting over this one... nothing like sitting on my front porch and watching the God of the universe majestically light up the sky).  Driving in big cities.  But I'm thinking that these aren't the things that the author had in mind.  These superficial fears are things that many of us probably do fear, but I think there are so many more things on a deeper level. 

The fear of being alone.  That's a big one.  The fear of never being good enough. The fear of failing as a mother and failing as a wife.  The fear that one day, I'm going to do something and make God not love me anymore (even though this is impossible, because God is love and can never not love me... He just doesn't always like my behaviors).  All of these are irrational.  I think that is one of the characteristics of fear.  It is irrational.  It may begin as a small seed of something that is a reality, but we blow it up and talk about it in our minds and it becomes as big as one of those California redwoods.  What is so bad is that at times, I can talk myself out of my fears, but then one small thing happens and I am right back to being that cowering woman hiding under the covers of her bed, wishing she could just stay there all day. 

But I think there is hope for each one of us.  I think that God has a plan for us, and it does not include a spirit of fear. That doesn't mean we will never  be afraid... but it does mean that we won't be paralyzed because of it.  So fear not, sisters.  I think we've got a breakthrough coming.  And if we are going to be full of fear, let's direct it one place... Fearing (respecting) the Lord.

Psalm 112:1

Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Someone once said that if you learn something new every day, it's been a good day.  (Ok, so maybe noone ever said that.  But they should have, because it's true).  I learn something every day- from my students, from Caleb, from all kinds of people.  Tonight, I learned about perserverance from some boys in blue.  Yep, from a bunch of scrappy teenagers who muscled their way down a football field when it looked like there wasn't hope for a touchdown.  What did I learn from this group of boys?

I learned that hard work really does get you somewhere.  I learned that family isn't just blood, but it's loving each other out on the field and taking a hit for your brother.  I learned that just because you make mistakes, you shouldn't quit. Instead, you should take these as opportunities to move forward.  I learned that community is important, and that being a part of something bigger than yourself is what really matters. 

None of these lessons are really new, but I needed a reminder just the same.  Sometimes it's easy to get down, to think that there is no hope.  A lot of times it's easy to make mistakes and then just quit.  However, I'm going to pull out that old cliche, quitters never win.  That was shown tonight on the football field, and is true for life as well.

Proud to be a Breathitt County Bobcat!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Being tough is tough

Today has been one of those spring/summer days that one can only wish for.  I slept until I woke up, no alarm clock (ok, maybe my cell phone rang, but I was still well-rested).  I read my Bible, working through a couple of days of Breaking Free and No Other Gods.  I did a Zumba video for almost an hour and walked for another hour, sweating and smelling nasty but feeling all the better for it.  I lounged in the bathtub until the water got cold, then played cars with my boy until I was confused about which car was going where.  I put on my cut-offs and my flip-flops, and lounged by the pool watching Caleb splash and reading my Kindle.  One of the things that Rachel Olsen talked about in her book It's No Secret is taking one day and making it a Sabbath rest day, and while this wasn't Sunday, it has definitely been a day of rest.  Until about 530. 

At 530, Caleb was playing on the computer.  His aunt Holly told him he needed to get off so she could do some work, promising to let him back on in thirty minutes.  Caleb just kept pushing his limits, until he was in a full-fledged screaming fit.  Tears and all streaming down his face.  I got mad, he got madder, and it ended with me escorting him back to our house, him crying the whole time.  And after we had both cooled down, I got to thinking.  1. I handled this all out battle much better than what I used to.  I think I only raised my voice a couple of times.  I was firm but not hard-headed and I ended it by getting on his level and hugging him and telling him I loved him, which brought about more, "I'm sorry, Mommy" tears.  So, as I'm patting myself on the back for being the better Mommy, I realized something.  Parenting is hard.  Sticking to your guns is hard.  What is even harder is doing it while you are under control and showing them how much you love them, especially when they pull the ol' "If you loved me, then..." or "You'd let me do that if you loved me." It's hard to reason with an impulsive eight year old whose only concern is what is fun.  And what really hit me then is this: how much am I like that eight year old?  If God is my Father, and I am a child of God, have I always been obedient?  How many times do I push my limits?  Parenting must be hard for Him too.  He has to make hard decisions for us.  Proverbs 3:12, The Message, says, "But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;  a father's delight is behind all this."
This message is echoed in Hebrews 12:6.  We are adopted into His kingdom, and given an inheritance, meaning He is our Father, so we can cry ABBA, Father... Daddy =) He showed this ultimate parental love by sending His only son, Jesus, to die for our sins, so that we can be in relationship with Him, forever.  So as hard as it is to be a good parent for me, I must remember that in those impulsive, 8 year old moments, I am just as impulsive as a child.  But He loves me regardless, just like I love Caleb.  And tough love, while serving to correct, also must demonstrate acceptance.  Lord, let me do just that.  Help me demonstrate those fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Now, I'm going to go enjoy the rest of my restful day, playing Lightning Mcqueen and loving my boy =)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Contentment is...

"You're blessed when you are content with just who you are- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourself proud owner of everything that can't be bought." - Matthew 5:5, The Message.

My Siesta Scripture Memory Verse #10... As I am working through Bible studies about Breaking Free from bondage and being satisfied with God as my only god... Contentment with me, myself and I and who I am in Christ seemed very important.  We are told to be content in all circumstances.  The part of this verse that I love, other than the reminder to just strive to be me, is "everything that can't be bought." Some of my "can't be bought" (even though some of these may have monetary value)
1. Rain on a tin roof at night (As I am writing this it is 45 degrees outside but the rain sounds so good!)
2. Hearing my little man laugh.  Quote of the day, "Mom, scratch my back knuckles. You know, those things that stick out in your back."
3. A hubby that will take your car to have the oil changed and tires rotated and brings it back to you with a full tank of gas (especially since pumping gas in the aforementioned rain is no fun).
4. Laying on the couch and reading my Kindle.
5. Brown butter cookies
6. Grandparents in their 80th year of life
7. Zumba
8.A good Bible study
9. good friends
10. Knowing that God loves me for me
So, tonight, I am content.  I am blessed... far more than I could ever imagine.  It is my job to take those blessings and bless others.  It is my job to glorify God through my blessings.  And it is my job to not just be content, as this may lead me to grow complacent. It is my job to ACTIVELY be grateful. Every day.  Every minute.  "Some people live for history.  I say live for the moment." (slight paraphrase of Beth Moore).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Check the ingredients

I am sitting on my couch with the best boy in the world right now.  Seriously, he is snuggling up next to me and all is right with the world.  But that wasn't the case about 15 minutes ago.  About 15 minutes ago, he was running around the house yelling, singing, dancing, laughing, and talking so fast I thought his tongue was going to come out of his mouth.  Hysterical laughter.  Excessive motion.  Rolling around in the floor like he is on fire.  Yes, he is a little hyper all the time, but this far exceeded his normal.  That's because of a very unwise parent decision that can teach all of us a little lesson in life.  You have to check the ingredients before you consume something. 

You see, on my way home from Bible Study I asked Caleb if he would like me to stop at McDonalds and pick him up anything to eat.  We compromised on fewer chicken nuggets for a special treat, a Caramel Frappucino.  I have no idea what the ingredients of these are, I just know that my little sister drinks them all the time and Caleb had drank some of hers one time.  So I splurged.  Big mistake.  I started not to let him drink it when my other sister pointed out that it had a coffee taste to it (I didn't think about it... another mistake).  But then my very wise dad, the veteran (and lone) coffee expert in the house, said, "It won't hurt him." So drink it he did... every bit of it.  And then proceeded to do the song and dance routine I described earlier. 

He couldn't help it.  And it made me think, we are kind of like that.  A lot of time we are exposed to stuff we have no idea about.  I'm reading No Other Gods by Kelly Minter, and one of the lessons last week talked about things we participate in, read, watch, etc. that may not glorify God.  In these situations, we don't check the ingredients.  We don't check the path we are taking before we start down the road.  Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  We must be conscious of the path we are taking, and allow God to lead us in the right direction.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go find myself some chocolate... or caffeine. I think it's going to be a long night in the Bates house... but at least we are laughing! =)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Welcome to myself

So, this is the first time I"ve ever tried this and I don't want to seem self-absorbed, but I have always communicated best by writing so this is going to be a medium for me to communicate my thoughts and feelings to myself. If other people read it and are blessed, that's great!  I am currently reading No Other Gods by Kelly Minter and Breaking Free by Beth Moore, and I am finding that self-deception is a major problem in my life.  Im thinking that is probably the case for everyone.  Now before you start shaking your heads (there I go, thinking people will actually read this), how many times have you bought into the lie that you aren't good enough?  That you aren't worthy?  But we are!  One of my favorite verses right now is from 2 Corinthians 12:9.  It's the inspiration for the title of this blog.  It says, "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength is comes into its own in your weakness."  Paul goes on to say," Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness."
Now I don't know about you, but I am weak in a lot of things.  I am weak in wanting to do housework and laundry.  I am weak in anger management and patience.  I am weak when staring at a plate of brown butter cookies and a bag of Doritoes.  I am weak when it comes to saying no.  I am weak when it comes down to 1 Corinthians 13 love.  But that's ok.  I can be weak.  When I am weak, it gives Jesus a chance to show through. He can make me strong.  He can help me say no, help me be patient, help me to hold my anger in check and to love completely.  No, I am not perfect.  I'm not expected to be.  But I am not complete, either, and one day I will be made perfect. Philipians 1:6, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."  Until that day, I've just got to keep on keeping on.  And you do, too.  Cause he is enough.