Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A January of Thankfulness

I've wrote about my Joy Dare, given by Ann Voskamp, the author of 1000 gifts. I've struggled some days, but then I am reminded of her "ugly-beautiful", and how sometimes even what doesn't appear as good is really working underneath the surface. This month of gratefulness has opened my eyes and I'd like to think change me for the better. I've still been impatient, angry, demanding, but I've also been overall more cheerful, loving, and kind. I've kept my eyes wide open and really looked, noticing things that I probably never would have noticed before. So, without further ado, here are my gifts of January, all 93 of them.
Well, maybe not all 93 of them... but you'll get the gist.

In January, I am thankful for snow. Heat. Blue Uggs. My old computer that my Dad bought me to get me through grad school that is now duct-taped together. My Kindle. I love you. My job. Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. My planner. Diet Coke. William fixing my brakes. The sunlight playing off the creek as I walked. Caleb's hugs. Him skyping me at work to tell me he loves me. Wallace playing with my hair... even when he sometimes pulls it. Kami's yellow car in the driveway, meaning she's home safe. The birds singing even when it is cold outside. Caleb singing in the living room as I try to relax taking my bath. Safe travels home in the snow. A good trip to town with my boys. Happiness over ballgame wins. My family's health. Thinking about being still. Reflecting on God still being God. Jeremiah 1:5. Matthew 6:33. Hebrews 10:27. The sun shining. My Bible. Nursing students. Clouds in the sky. Christ's redemption. Christ's perfect love. Christ's peace. My family. The history of Lees College Campus. Casting Crowns music. Writing. Love. Beauty.

Gratefulness... opens my eyes. Doesn't make it perfect, but makes it better.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Manic Monday

Today's been one of those days. You know the kind, where you feel like you've conquered the world, then all the sudden someone or something comes along and lets all the air out of your balloon, and you float to the ground, deflated. Yep, it's been a Monday...

It started out not so bad... got my promotion notebook turned in, a couple of other things marked off the to do list, walked outside 45 minutes in downtown Jackson enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the wind blowing through my hair. And then it all went to pieces.

You know when it has been so very, very good that something is going to come along and knock you down. Life is like that, a crazy roller coaster ride. And I enjoy roller coasters, but there's that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you're sitting at the top getting ready to coast down.

Life is made to send us curve balls. Sometimes we swing and hit a grand slam, and most of the time we don't. And it's in those times when we strike out that our true character shows. When we strike out, it's easy to want to cower in the dugout and never step up to the plate again. (Trust me, I've struck out a LOT in my three years in Ponytail League... I'm speaking from experience). But just like a baseball game, we've got other people cheering us on, depending on us to step back up to the plate.

So even when I feel like I'm a failure, like I'm not doing things right, like I'm not worth it, I am. Even when I strike out, there's still another at bat. And if there isn't, it just means that my work here is finished. Same for you. Even when we feel like failures, worthless, there's a Coach in the sky telling us differently. He died for us. He's working on our imperfections. He's pinch hitting for us when we feel like we can't swing one more time.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
He never said we had to be perfect. He just said we had to keep striving.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I've never considered myself a friendly person. Since I was a little girl, I've been an introvert and always was uncomfortable striking up conversations. I was always more comfortable with books. I think a lot of the times I came across as aloof and snobbish, where really I was just shy and insecure. As I've grown up and realized who I am in Christ, I've become a little more confident. (And being married to Wallace Bates, the extrovert of extroverts, I've been placed in more social situations than I care for, so I've gotten some better at being friendly). With that being said, I'd like to pay tribute to some of my nearest and dearest.

To Jennifer, Brandon, and Glenn- the saying goes that cousins are your first friends, and that is so true. From before I can remember, you were there, getting into meanness with me. Climbing trees and going fishing and skiing at the lake and playing detective. Singing and jumping and making movies. And as we grew up, riding around town and working on the yearbook together and hanging out and taking Anatomy together (admit it, Brandon, you just wanted to cheat). I'm so glad that you've all been there for me.

To Olivia, my best friend since kindergarten. We hit it off on the first day we met. We hung on the handicap rail and kept Glenn B. fed in the pickup line. We collected Garbage Pail Kid cards and spent more nights together, plotting and making prank calls and watching music videos and eating enough Sweettarts to rot our lips off. Glue creations and puffy paint and cheering and not cheering together. Sharing purses and hiding in your closet to scare Jeff, and me fighting with Jeff like he was the little brother that I never had. You were my first and nearest confidant. Yes, we grew apart in high school, but I still love you and miss you. I think of you, Anthony, and Sophie often and pray for you and thank God that you are so very happy. And I know that when we finally do make time to go out and eat like we are always saying we will, we'll sit down and catch up and it will be just like no time at all has passed, because that's how true friendships are.

To Amanda, my almost cousin but not quite, yearbook and cruising town and pep club... you have been in my life almost as long as I can remember. You made my Junior and Senior years of high school so much fun and I miss you. I hate that we never talk... I hope that life is treating you beautifully.

To Candace, Jenine, Jamie Ann, and Deanna... my cheerleading buddies. Oh, what laughter we had at cheerleading practice. Sleepovers... and Grease. You were my sisters. We had so many good experiences. Cheering for the best team...and cheering for each other. Seeing your babies on facebook and knowing that for all of us, life has been pretty good makes me smile. I treasure each and every minute I had with you... the good and the bad.

To my nursing school buddies, who I never see. We went through two rough years together but it made us strong. Becky Haddix, I never will forget driving to Hazard with you and that blue jeep that could go anywhere... study meetings where we always talked and ate more than we studied. You were taken from this world far too early, but you lived life to the fullest while you were here.

And now, to Jenna, and all my work buddies. We share a different kind of friendship, but it is no less as deep. I respect each of you and am so glad that I can call you my friends. As I struggle to eat my frog and get lecture notes typed up, juggling work and family and everything else, I am so happy that I have you guys to complain to. I so admire each and everyone of you. Know that you make my life so much more meaningful.

If you've managed to make it this far, you're my friend, too. We may never talk, but I so appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to read my blog. I pray that you are blessed by my words. Take time out of your day to tell your friends that you love and appreciate them, too. We were made to be relational... with God, and with others.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Today I had a wonderful day. I got to spend the whole day with my boys, both of whom were in marvelous moods. A trip to Half-Price books, dinner at Logan's Roadhouse, and a good movie... can't get much better than that.

However, the movie really got me thinking. We went and watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a movie that is about a young boy whose father was killed in the World Trade Towers on 9-11. It was rated PG-13, and I was a little leery to let Caleb watch it, but he sat there riveted for most of the 2 hours +. He's watched footage of 9-11 because I think it is important that we never forget.

In this film, the young boy is obviously working through the grieving process. As a nation, we mourned our society as a whole... but those people in those towers were PEOPLE. They had spouses, moms, dads, kids.. friends and family who couldn't just watch the morbid news broadcasts over and over. I was one of those fixated. I still can't watch coverage of the towers collapsing without having my heart in my chest, and I can't imagine what it was like in NYC that day. The smells, the sounds, the fear and anguish. As a nation, we mourned the loss of our innocence, of our immortality, of our invincibility. We still mourn. Proof was seen tonight, in that movie theatre, where I sat sniffling while Wallace slept beside me (ok, maybe he wasn't quite as riveted by the whole storyline as I was) and while Caleb squeezed my hand and told me, "If you don't quit embarrasing me by crying at movies I'm going to stop coming with you." (Because I do... cry at movies. All kinds of movies).

But as I sat there sniffling and wiping the tears away, I realized that grief interrupted, or grief brought back to life over and over again, only makes us hurt worse. Unresolved grief is the most difficult type to deal with. And grief takes so many different forms. For some, it is through diversion that they deal... for others, it is by facing it head on and tackling it. We cry, we shout, we hide, we bury ourselves under the covers. But the important thing when we grieve, whether it be for a physical loss or the loss of a family member or grief because something didn't happen the way we wanted to during the day, is to DO SOMETHING. Oscar in the movie did something. It was a difficult road of grief but he acted in it. He did what he had to do to finally face his fears. We'd be wise if we did the same.

On Winning

I've been to a lot of basketball games in my life. Grade school, middle school, high school, college. I've had the pleasure of cheering in the middle of Rupp Arena during the Sweet 16, and I've also known the agony of going home the first round of district tournament. I may not know basketball, but I know about winning.

Winners are those who never give up. They are the ones who scrap for the ball, who hustle, who keep on keeping on even when the calls aren't going their way and the elbows are flying and nothing gets called. When the ball goes out of bounds and you KNOW you weren't the last one to touch it, but the ref calls it out on you anyway. Winners are the ones who give 110% in the gym before the game, during the summer, on the weekends, where there isn't a crowd and a band and cheerleaders, there's just them and the basketball, and a million shots from the free throw line. A million sprints, and a million and one yells from a crazy coach who they sometimes hate.

Winners are winners when maybe the score board doesn't always show it. Then, there are those times when it does. When you are down with 5:00 to go, and the coach's wife heart is pumping so hard and her hands are shaking so bad that she can't even check Facebook. (Even though it is just a regular season game, there's something about adrenaline that just keys this old coach's wife up...). When you fight back... really fight. When you are not the biggest on the court but you make up for it in heart, and in love for your sisters. And before you know it, your Senior has left it all on the court as she fights for the rebound, and your Junior drives it up the court and bounce passes it to the other Junior for a shot under the basket. When your little guards play like they aren't so little. When your sophomore checks in and does her part underneath, and the freshmen don't play like freshmen. When those 8th graders come in with ice in their veins, and everyone on the team has a part. EVERYONE. Each person on that bench, and those parents in the stands, and the coaches and the administrators. And yes, me... a Sports Mama. No girls of my own, but I couldn't be any prouder. I've known you girls were winners for a long time. I've seen your sacrificies. Tonight, you showed them on the scoreboard. You pulled together and made this ball game lover get tears in her eyes as I watched you celebrate, because it is everything that all of you deserve. Tonight, we are winners. You have shown us how it is done... and as always, it is great to be a Jackson Tiger.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I love to sleep. I especially love to sleep late, in the wintertime, when it is cold outside. There's nothing like just pulling the blanket up over your chin and knowing that you don't have to get out of the bed anytime soon if you don't want to. I also like to sleep on rainy days. And it is the best to sleep on a hot afternoon, lulled to dreamland by the hot sunny rays beating down, a book folded on my chest.

I recognize that this may mean that I am lazy. But considering that I didn't get in bed last night until 2 AM, and then got right back up this morning, I've been thinking about sleeping all day long. I guess it is just that time of the year, the days are shorter, and even though this hasn't been the typical winter weather, it's still like my mind is saying get on in the bed.

Unfortunately, I've got some work to do. And American Idol is DVRd. But at least I can do these in the bed. Being lazy... for today. I'll make up for it tomorrow =)

Commit Your Plans

It's after 12 midnight and I am waiting on an audio file to upload to Itunes U so I can create another audio lecture. My notebook is due Monday and I have to put together an exam by Monday, too. I checked off 15 students on IVs today, 15 of them walking through the same exact procedure. Lecture notes to do. Forms to complete. Discussion boards to grade.

Seems like God is telling me over and over again the same thing... I loved this from Jesus Calling today: "Bring me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones...Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting me set the pace." The sacrifice of your time... but it really isn't my time. He's the one who has numbered my days. Sacrifice, yes... I've got so many other things to do. So much that needs my attention. And of course I need sleep. But His Word called to me today. As I got up, with all that stuff going round and round in my head, I picked up my Bible and read in Exodus about the Israelites. I found myself thinking of all of my modern conveniences... things like the Internet and my cell phone and my Kindle (although I really do love my Kindle...). Things that in my hurry up pace only make me feel more smothered. (Except the KIndle... grin). Let God set the pace. Don't rush through reading His Word. Meditate. How much time did I take today to say, "Thank You, God?" Did I even say it? Surely I thought it...

So I'll be up a little longer and then I'll crash into bed and get up in the morning to do the same thing. Lord, help me focus on YOu. Help me put You first. Help set my pace, so I can have Your peace. And in that peace, I'll get so much more accomplished.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Learning

I'm working on my Promotion notebook. For those of you who don't work in the community college system, this promotion notebook is a compilation of all of my work over the past three years that shows the people at the system level that I have truly been doing what I've said I've been doing. I think I work hard at my job. I truly love what I do and pride myself on getting the job done. My job description includes my actual teaching assignments, advising, internal service, external service, leadership, and professional development. All this work has made me think a lot about learning.

Part of my teaching philosophy is that we can all learn. I also believe it is important to learn something new every day. Since I have started blogging every day, and taking pictures every day, and thinking of things I'm grateful for every day, I really am looking at life differently. And I'm happy to say that on most days, I do learn something. It may be something totally useless, or it may be life-changing, but it's something. I believe that this is important.

Our universe is not stagnant. The world in which we live is ever-changing, and in order to adapt, we must learn new things. There are so many things that I want to learn about, but not nearly enough time. That's why I've started a bucket list. I want to learn Spanish. I want to learn to play the piano. I want to learn to crochet. I want to learn about other countries. I want to learn my family history (thanks, Mom, for a headstart) and where my husband came from. I want to learn about the Bible. I want to learn in my job, new ways of doing things, new ways of approaching students and patients. I want to learn to appreciate life as it is.

We learn from books. We learn from the Internet. We learn from experience. What I need to figure out how to do better is to learn from others, from their life experiences. Watching an elderly couple walk hand in hand in the store can teach me about acceptance and perserverance in hard times. Watching someone grieve because of illness or death can teach me compassion and empathy. Watching the flowers bud in spring can teach me patience. There are life lessons everywhere- we just have to open our eyes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Belt it Out, Baby...

Tonight when I got home from work, Caleb was listening to his Ipod. He has a wide interest in music, and can go from Selena Gomez to Mercy Me to Johnny Cash with a hit of the button. Tonight, he put on a concert for me and his Nana in her living room. He sang his heart out, and we applauded for him just like he was a star.
Then, it was my turn. I got to looking at that Ipod and there were all kinds of songs I hadn't heard in a while. Tom Petty. Guns n Roses. Some old school Toby Mac. And What's Up by 4 Nonblonds.

There's just something about music that was popular when you were in high school that makes you want to rock out. You know what I mean... I can remember when gas was .99 cents a gallon, and I'd pop my cassette in and roll my windows down and drive around the block, summer sun beating through the windshield and the wind blowing through my hair. So I put those earphones in and gave Caleb his own concert, complete with head banging. "And I say, hey-ya-ya-ya-a" Needless to say, he wasn't impressed. But hey, it made my Monday better. So if you're stressed, find you an old song on the computer. Make sure noone is around, and belt that baby out. Find something to use as a microphone (a hairbrush is preferred), and add your own air guitar and air drums (just make sure you are playing the right instrument... I have a story about that for another time.) I guarantee you'll feel better after you do. =)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Authentic. Real. Genuine. According to dictionary.com, authentic means, "not false or copied; genuine; real...Authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be."

That a person is who she claims to be? Can I be real? Genuine? Can I be me???

These questions may seem odd, but they have been rolling around in my head. I'm a big thinker... not like philosophy thinking, or problem-solving thinking, but the older I get the more I realize that I want to be the best I can be. I've wrote often about my resolutions, but one theme that also came up at the New Year was the idea to let one word define your year. One word? That's a huge decision. This one word (or really a collection, because it started as 'real' and then transcended to authentic) kept coming up. Because this is something that I have always struggled with. Not knowing "who" I am, and then being afraid to really be me. Because what if people don't like the real me? What if I'm not good enough?

Today in my devotion, I read Exodus 3, the part where Moses is talking to the burning bush. Moses essentially asks God two questions. The first is a common theme for men and women God calls, "but who am I?" Who am I to approach Pharaoh? Who am I to lead an army of only 300? Who am I to do what you have planned for me? The second is the most important- Who are you, God? "I AM WHO I AM." Yahweh. The Great I Am. And as I struggle with being authentic, this is what he whispers to me. "I know who you are. You are my creation, my masterpiece, a chosen girl. I love you with an everlasting love. I have redeemed you and called you by name. I'm not finished working on you yet. Yes, you have flaws, but in your weakness I am made strong. I AM enough. I AM... and you are who you are in Me." The only important answer to my questions of authenticity lies in me accepting His promises for my life. I may make messes, but He can (and will) redeem them. Every time. For good.

So I'm learning to become comfortable in my own skin. I'm emotional. I'm a big baby. I procrastinate, and am hateful, and tend to complain. But when I love, I really love and I am loyal and caring and empathetic. I'm who I am, by the grace of God. And the only person that I am living for is the Ultimate Judge- an Audience of One. Authentic. Real. True to me. Living what I'm claiming to be... a mess that has been redeemed. Not perfect, but being made perfect in Him.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Once a Cheerleader...

I can't remember a time when I wasn't a cheerleader. My earliest memory of having a uniform is probably when I was about 4. Football or basketball, it didn't matter. I was bit early and even though I wasn't the best at it, I gave it my all. Cheering for intramural games, then graduating to being a Mountaineer cheerleader, then finally cheering at the Varsity level. Some of my best memories are on the sideline. Great friends, lots of laughter, some tears...I turned 16 on the football field, realized that my Mom really was one of my best friends on the basketball court, and grew up a lot in a couple of years.
Today, I sat and judged a grade school cheerleading competition. I was reminded again of why I loved it so much. Those little girls, in their little uniforms and their shiny pom-poms and their hairbows that seemed bigger than their heads, with those cork-screw curls from oh so many rollers (ok, most of them wear hairpieces now, but I can still remember sleeping with those rollers in...)Those smiles, those facial expressions, that shaking of the head as they yell the words as loud as their little voices will let them.
If you don't understand cheerleading, you never will. I know a lot of people who don't think it's a sport. They haven't seen those girls fall out of pyramids and crack their heads on the wooden floors, or seen floor burn on knees from falling during tumbling passes. Of doing wall pushups and jump builders and conditioning (running bleachers, laps around the football field, and up the hill by the Board of Ed building makes me want to convulse right now, 15 years later.) And if you do understand it, you know where I'm coming from. You're the kind who can't sit still at a ballgame, who has to yell and clap no matter who the team is. Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.
Tomorrow, I'll stand in the bleachers and watch my favorite little cheerleader, all grown up. Her last 14th regional competition. I think I may go cry now... but tomorrow, I'll be cheering Kami on. Cause that's what cheerleaders do.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking close up...

1000 gifts. Numbered in a spiral notebook. I'm only on #56...Life, lived,in it fullness, in its thankfulness, looks a little different with a lens of gratitude. Ann Voskamp got it right in here book... I'd highly recommend it. Sometimes, a change of perspective is just what you need.

Three gifts that you didn't see until you looked close up- Caleb, the fading of his boyish cheeks starting to look grown-up. The line of his glasses on his nose and the hairline, starting to get fuzzy as the hairs grow a little too long. Spaghetti curling on a fork and the glint in his eyes as he slowly pulls those noodles up... the realization that he doesn't spill a drop of sauce on him, whereas only yesterday (it seems) we couldn't get him spaghetti in a restaurant because of the mess.

Close-up they huddle, bent over an IV arm, a mannequin, practicing, helping each other figure out the right steps as they practice, practice, practice. Questions, and laughter as they realize they are getting it. From far away, across the room, they are indiviuals, but close-up, they are a team. That's how nursing is... teamwork for the best of the patient. These students, gifts to me, and hopefully I am a gift to them.

And lastly, close-up, my Bible open. Reading His Word, to me, from thousands of years ago. A letter to my heart. This, perhaps, is the closest of it all, because it can be in my heart.

Thank You, Lord, for opening my eyes to small, everyday miracles. For sustaining, redemption, love. For life, lived, even in the madness.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


When I was little, the movie Annie used to be my absolute favorite. I think it might have been my first movie that I ever watched in a movie theatre. I loved it and would watch it over and over again. I owned Annie dolls and Annie books and even had a pair of Orphan Annie glasses with her picture on the arm. I've watched it in Musical form a couple of times at Jenny Wiley and I can still remember how scared I was when Punjab (? spelling) helped her into the helicopter at the end...

Probably one of the most memorable moments in the movie for me was the song "Tomorrow"... especially when Annie inspired the President of the United States to join her in the singing. And yes, I live by the creed of tomorrow, but more along the lines of Scarlett O'Hara- I'll deal with it tomorrow. Yes, I am a MAJOR procrastinator. I also like to overcommit- yep, that word "No" isn't really in my vocabulary (unless it is Caleb; I tend to say it a lot to him.) So after a busy, four day week, I'm staring at a to do list for tomorrow that is scary. Long. Lots of stuff that HAS to be done. Little time to do it. And my students have check-offs next week so I have to be in the lab some for them tomorrow. So, normally at this moment I'd be freaking out. Or burying my head in the sand or a really good book, and just trying to forget it all. Tonight, though, as I was looking at all I had to get done and thinking about a busy weekend and an even busier week next week, I took out my planner and highlighted my "have to do" stuff. I kind of have a plan. And I wrote in my planner, in big letters all the way across tomorrow's box, "I am NOT going to get overwhelmed. There's nothing me and God can't handle. Philippians 4:13" And I mean it. Because despite everything that I "have to" do, there is One who is in control. He will see me through. He has numbered my days and He has a plan for me and if I'm willing to follow Him, He'll steer me right. Because His grace is enough. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I will go try to tackle a couple of items on that to do list, because today is yesterday's tomorrow, and maybe I've put it off long enough =)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Seek First...

Yesterday I talked about being still before God and acknowledging that He had it under control. Today, seemed like what He was telling me all day long was "Seek me."
Hebrews 10:22 says, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." God wants us to draw close to Him, close enough so that we are covered by His redemption. He wants us to look to Him first, because He has the plans already worked out.
In James, He echoes this, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." The only way that we can cleanse our hands and purify our hearts is through Him, and His redemption. Everything else we try is only temporary, and is never really a fix. Often, when I try to clean up my self, I tend to make life a bigger mess.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven, and all of these will be added." Matthew 6:33 Things like food. Clothing. Shelter. Peace of mind about tomorrow. If you seek God, He will see that you are cared for. He loves us with an unfailing love, an everlasting love, and one characteristic of loving someone is caring for their needs.
While it is true that sometimes He wants us to be still, He also wants us to be moving... kind of difficult to imagine. As we are quiet, and still, we can actively be seeking Him. Praying for His guidance. Being quiet and listening. And then, that still small voice will quietly comfort us, and we will feel Him. Always present. Always near. Always caring. Always- He is, after all, the Great I Am.. He Is. Always.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Be Still...

I have trouble being still. Well, maybe not that much trouble, as I can sit pretty still to read a book, and have no trouble lying still to sleep. As I've been reading different devotions, though, I realize that the kind of still that the Psalmist talks about isn't exactly my forte.

"Be still and know I am God."- Psalm 46:10. "The Lord will fight for you,you only have to be still." Exodus 14:14.

Still. As in not moving. As in not jumping to conclusions. Not making hasty decisions and flying off the handle. Be still... because He is still God. He's the same God that created the Universe just by speaking. The same God who parted the Red Sea. The same God that comforted David, who was with Daniel in the Lions Den, and most importantly, the same God that gave His Son to die for our sins, then brought Him back to life so that we may have victory.

It's not always up to me. Sure, I love a plan just as much as the next person. In fact, I'm a little obsessive about it. However, if I could just figure out how to be still and let God... be God, how much easier would it be for me?

Be still... breathe in and out. Deep breaths. Focus on who He is. Let Him be God... and let me just be me. Just me, in my brokeness, in my mess. Because He is still God, and His grace is sufficient.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It

Some people just exude happiness. I am not one of them. My sister Holly is. There is just a peace about her, and true joy. I, on the other hand, tend to sulk. Sometimes I make a "mad face" even when I'm not mad. I'm trying to do better,though, really I am. After all, even when I am at my worst, I can still find something in my life to be happy about.

I've taken the Joy Dare: 1000 Gifts in 2012. This is based on the book 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, one of the favorite books I read last year. Today I was challenged to find three gifts where someone showed happiness. Now being that I pretty much stayed in the house today, I haven't had that many opportunities, but this is what I've got.

1. When Caleb got a high score of over 700,000 on Temple Run on his Ipad tonight. His expression of happiness was very low-key compared to some I've seen from him in the past, but a smile and a hug is what I got.
2. When Jackson City beat Owsley County tonight (boys). Happiness at ballgames is full of fist pumps and clapping loudly.
3. When Wallace's girls came back from a 20 point deficit to cut the lead to 5 and Wallace called a time out... He was happy. Proud. Ectastic. Whether it was because his girls had fought back and not quit or because that time-out meant he could stand up and yell and stomp, I'm not sure, but I think it was the not quitting.

Happiness means different things to different people. True, unadulterated happiness is a prize. There's quiet happy, loud happy, teary-eyed happy, dignified happy. Lord, help me be happy in You, and let me be demonstrative about it. Now, I'm going to be happy to go to bed. Night, world =)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Freedom Isn't Free

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I can't imagine the 1950s and 1960s. It was a completely different world back then. Yes, I live in Eastern Kentucky. Yes, I am the majority here. I can probably remember the first time that I saw someone of another color or ethnicity. Some of the people in my hometown are not as open to racial relations as others. But can you imagine not being able to sit at a counter, or walk in a building, just because of the color of your skin? Of being ridiculed for something you have no control over? I can't imagine having to try to explain that to Caleb... yet that is the reality that many in the South had to face every day.

I know there are always two sides to every story and sometimes what makes it in the History books isn't really the way that it truly was. Yet sometimes, it doesn't depict it well enough. How can you describe the atrocities without experiencing them? Injustice is never right, no matter how one might rationalize it.

This quote makes me think. A whole generation stood by and let horrible things happen to good people. A whole generation of... good people doing bad things. And sometimes, the worst thing at all is to do nothing. To stand by and watch and not take action. As I think about this quote, it smacks me right in the face. No, I don't consider myself a racist, far from it. I'm not a bigot by any means. For the most part, I am a pretty compassionate person who cares for others and hates to see anyone suffer. But how many times have I just stood there? Not spoken up for the right thing? Not spoken against the wrong? You see, by being silent, I am just as guilty.

This issue goes far beyond just the Civil Rights movement. Today, injustice can still be seen based on the color of your skin, but it is also seen in gender, socioeconomic status, intelligence, and belief systems. I've always believed that one of our favorite ways to feel better about ourselves is to put others down. This results in injustice. It may not be as extreme as it was during the Civil Rights Movement, but it is injustice all the same. If we continue to remain silent, we are just as guilty as those who persecuted. We allow Martin Luther King Jr.'s message to be in vain. So my challenge to you is: be for the underdog. Love with your whole heart and be open to others, regardless of their circumstances. Believe in America as one nation under God, the land of opportunity, regardless of who you are. Speak for those who can not speak for themselves and be willing to help your neighbor. We may not be able to rid the world of injustice, but we can start in our own backyard.

Life in a Gym

When I was little, I used to pretend that the Breathitt Coliseum was my castle. At that time, the goals were covered with blue mats and I'd climb as high as I could and then slide back down. The top part of the gym up next to the windows was the perfect place for me to hide. Many a book was read laying on those bleachers, and I've hid out in the girls bathroom too many times to count. I was always the "little girl with the pigtails in the cheerleading outfit."

I was raised on high school basketball. There's this picture of my Mom and my sister, Holly... Holly is just a baby and my Mom is standing up with Holly in her arms and one arm raised up... I'm sure she's probably yelling at the refs. So I come by it honest. I talked the other day about my love for football, and basketball is a close second. I don't know a lot about the game. Sometimes I get mad because I think something is a foul when maybe it wasn't. If a player walks and I know it, it's an obvious walk. However, after 12 years of scouting, I've picked up on a little. It's a good thing that I enjoy it, I guess. Otherwise Wallace and I wouldn't spend much time together...

And I'd by lying if I said that wasn't some of my favorite times. A lot of the time we don't even sit in the gym together, because Wallace is a politican (if you know him you understand) and goes from person to person talking. I tend to watch the cheerleaders, because it's never got out of my system. Even if I don't know anyone on the teams (which has happened, because I've scouted a lot of teams... or read a lot of books as the hubby takes notes), there's just something about sitting in a gym underneath those lights, the squeak of tennis shoes on that glossy wooden floor, the sound of the ball bounce, bounce, bouncing, of salty popcorn and the sound of the refs whistle.

Next week is the All A. Four more weeks until district tournament. Then there's that lull between basketball and football... spring volleyball for the middle school and maybe I'll pick up a love of softball from my "girls". But until then, guess I'll be content to sit on hard bleachers and keep on cheering. Wouldn't have it any other way =)

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Kind of Friday Night

So yes, I'm getting older. We've established that fact. Tonight just might have proved it. I was in my pajamas by 730, in the bed and underneath the covers enjoying a good paperback. I like to read all kinds of books, and my Kindle is well stocked with anything from the classics to nonfiction, but sometimes I want something I don't have to think about. I'm currently reading Janet Evanovich's One For The Money. I've heard great things about this series and the first one is coming out as a movie so I wanted to watch it beforehand. It's as good as everyone has said, and at a couple of points I've even laughed out loud.

Sometimes, after a crazy week of getting back to school and late night basketball conversations, laying around is just what the doctor ordered. I'm thankful that some nights we get the opportunity to do just that. I know my husband would have preferred to be in a gym at Pippa Passes, but I have enjoyed my book just fine. In fact, I think I'll go read some more right now... Grin

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Helping Others Out

Today, I gave blood. It wasn't really my first choice of how to spend the afternoon, but after a frantic text from my son, I ventured up to Jackson City to try to help his class win the contest for most people giving blood. After answering all of the required questions, getting my heart rate and blood pressure checked (I have to keep an eye on it. It was up. I'm hoping it was just because I was nervous and had just walked up the hill from Lees), getting my finger poked, I reclined on the chair and turned my head as they stuck that big needle in my arm. Wasn't too bad. Didn't take too long. I didn't even read my Kindle much because there were several people in there that I talked to. (Got to get The Girl Who Kicked the Dragon's Nest... is that the title? Been recommended by several people and the topic of my conversation...)

15 minutes to save a life... I know that sounds corny but as a nurse I know it is true. Giving blood really does save lives. I've hung enough blood in my day to know that the supply gets short. Yes, it's a few minutes of discomfort, but what is that in comparision to that cancer patient's suffering? Or to the little boy or girl who may be bleeding to death after a car wreck? How about someone's grandma who just had a fractured hip repaired? Just a few minutes, really, nothing that we all can't spare. If you can't donate blood because your iron is low or you have some other medical problem, there are all kinds of other things you can do to give back to others. This is just how I chose to do it today, with the prompting of a 9 year old. My best bet, I'll do it the next time around, too. Now, what are you going to do?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Little Things

Today, I picked Caleb up from academic team practice. He went to Zumba with me and then we went to McDonalds, thru the drive-thru, and up to my Grandparents to eat before church. We worked on homework and did Jesus Calling and before we knew it, it was bedtime.

Time is short. There aren't enough hours in the day. Too often I talk to Caleb with my computer in my lap, or a book in my hand, or my cell phone turned on. I don't live in the moment, and before I know it, these moments with him will be gone.

Moments like talking about whatever TV show is his favorite at the time. I really don't CARE about Wizards of Waverly Place and Good Luck Charlie... or do I? Those days snuggled up on the couch are the best times. Moments like him telling me his favorite song, then proceeding to sing it to me, full blast, word for word (or sometimes just making up words). Moments when I call home from work and he says, "Hurry, Mom, log into Facebook so I can skype you and see you." It's about his laughter, his smile, his glasses that slide down his nose sometimes, his shoes that he still doesn't like to put on himself because they are high tops, and let's admit, it just takes too much effort. It's about butterfly kisses and eskimo kisses and times when it's no kisses at all because he's just... too grown up, he says.

It's moments when I look at him across the gym and think he's grown a foot in a day, when he stands next to my Grandma and towers over her, when he hugs me and I realize that I can almost see him eye to eye. Moments when I sit down at my desk and see he's left me a surprise note, or moments when were walking through the parking lot or down the hill and that once-small hand reaches for mine, lacing his fingers through mine, and I realize that his hand is almost a perfect fit. Moments when he says, "Mom, we may disagree on a lot of things, but I think we'd agree that you're the best Mom ever." Although I wouldn't agree with that. How can I be the best Mom when I don't listen, when I'm impatient, when I get angry too easily?

Yes, my baby is growing up. I'd like to think I've grown up a little with him. I may not be the best Mom ever, but it isn't about being the best. It's about making each moment count, and from here on out, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Right now I'm reading about five books. I know, that seems crazy, but I've always been like that. I've got one in my car for when I'm waiting in the drivethru somewhere, one in my bathroom for my long baths, and several on my Kindle. One that I just started is Resolutions for Women by Priscilla Shirer. She advised it's not a fun read. She suggested taking your time, reading each small chapter (three to four pages) a day at a time so you can absorb it. That's what I've been trying to do.

I'm also getting ready to start reading Made to Crave (again... I quit it about halfway through last year). This year, I'm participating in Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies through Proverbs 31 MInistries, and if you're looking for an online outlet, this one is a good one.

Anyway, the word of the week for the Resolution book sets up my entry into the Made to Crave... discontentment. As in, the state of not being content, dissatisfied, "a restless desire or craving for something that one does not have." Often, we crave something because we have a God-sized hole that needs to be filled.

I've been discontent. I think it's easy to do so in this world of so much, in a world where people post what they want to be on facebook as if they are really that way (I've been guilty... be honest, you have, too). In this world that tells us if it costs more it has to be better and that we'll be happy if only we have this gadget or fit into this size or have this kind of vehicle. We seem so small, and everyone around us... is more. Better. And my heart longs for something more.

As I've read the few pages, I've thought about why I feel this way. God has provided me with more than enough. I'm so blessed. I know that. The statistics for here in America are mind-boggling when compared to the rest of the world, yet still we are unhappy. Why? Why are we discontented? Not satisfied?

It comes with what we are trying to fill ourselves with. Think about a square peg in a round hole. It might fit, but it's usually loose, leaving room to squeeze something around it. Or it falls easily. That's what happens when we try to become satisfied with worldly possessions. The Bible tells us to "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33. Seek Him first, and you will be content. Because you'll realize that He came to give you life more abundantly, and his grace will be sufficient.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I love football. High school, college, pro, heck, even grade school, it doesn't matter to me. There's just something about that hard hitting, in your face, standing in the pocket and rushing and going with everything in you that hits me in the gut. As I'm writing this, the National Championship is playing and the Tide of Alabama are rolling away over the LSU Tigers. Payback for earlier in the season...

But this blog post isn't about football. Not really. It's about the use of a passion as a platform for something bigger than ourself, and it can be anything that you do. You see, sweeping the nation right now is a Tebow bandwagon. A quarterback that proved himself time and time again in college, but wasn't given the opportunity to show it in the big leagues. People doubted him. Talked bad about him. And I'm sorry to say it, but I think it came down to one thing... his religious beliefs.

Tebow stands like a real man: on his knees. He doesn't take the glory for those passes- he gives it to God. He paints his eye black with Bible scriptures and fundraises for orphanages in his spare time. And I may be a poor judge of character, but I think he's the real deal. I think he's authentic. And he's got a whole lot of people talking.

Maybe God doesn't care who throws for a touchdown. Maybe God doesn't care who wins the game and advances in the playoff (that doesn't stop me from praying at ballgames. I just figure there are people on the other end that counter my prayers). What God does care about is that we do "everything" as if we are doing it for Him. Throwing a football. Taking a math class. Standing in front of a class lecturing. Whatever is everything. And Tebow gets that. By giving glory to God, He's giving Him attention. A lot of people dont' want to hear it. Darkness hates the light. The Devil is a deceiver. But God can speak loudly... and who can argue if it comes in the form of the quickest score in an NFL OT, in the form of an 80 yard pass play in a game where Tebow broke all kinds of records. Tebow broke the Twitter record for most tweets per second for a sporting event. So, yeah, people are talking about Tebow.. and they are also talking about God.

So, yes, I'm on the Tebow bandwagon. Maybe he'll get beat by the Patriots. Maybe he'll win the Superbowl. But I'm willing to bet that no matter what he does, right after it happens, you'll find him on his knee, giving glory for that ability to the one who gave it to him... Abba, Father. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in HIm would not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16... and that, my friend, is something to get down on your knee about. =)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Beginnings

Tomorrow is the first day of the spring semester. I know all of those college kids out there are ready to roll out of bed, ready to burn the candle at both ends. They've got their new ink pens and highlighters ready to take lots of notes, and new notebooks to fill up. New year planners are fresh and white with nothing written on the pages yet.

I love the beginning of the semester. I mean, I don't necessarily anticipate getting started back to work (and this semester is going to be lots of work, as we have a new edition of a book and my course is online... tough for Med-Surg, but I'm up for a challenge). What I do like is the newness... kind of like last week at the beginning of the year. The slate is clean and the Blackboard gradebook is empty. The possiblities are endless.

What is the same is that by this time next week, we won't even feel like we've left. The month-long winter break the students had will be long forgotten as they start preparing for checkoffs and exams, and working on online assignments. Before we know it, we'll be back in clinical and the day will be dictated with care plans and drug cards and lab values. We'll again be frazzled and stressed out and unfocused...

But not me. I'm NOT. This is a new beginning, and I'm not going to lose my focus. I'm not going to let myself become so overwhelmed with what I have to do that I lose focus of what has already been done for me. In this season of gratitude, I must focus on the One who makes it all possible, and by doing so, He will make all things possible. Including when there is work that seems to exceed the hours in the day. Including when I have a stack of papers on my desk to grade and online discussion boards to read and an exam to write and lots of other stuff to do. Because when I focus on Him, He helps me focus. One thing at a time, He'll see me through. Now, to revisit this in about a month ;-)

If you're starting back tomorrow, best of luck to you. Try to focus on one thing at a time, and make Him a priority. He'll help make you a success regardless... because His grace is sufficient.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Writer's Block

One week into my resolution to write every day and I'm stuck. Don't have a clue what to write about, so I guess I'll just ramble on for a couple of paragraphs. I forgive you in advance if you quit reading right now. I'll consider you a friend if you keep on keeping on...

Today was full of laughter and rest. I'm trying to rest as much as I can since spring semester will be in full swing on Monday. So today, after Zumba, I pretty much sat around and read. I read my Bible, and completed a couple of days in my To Live is Christ workbook. I also started reading A Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer (more on that later this week). I thought about taking a nap, but decided against it. Then, I rode to Hazard with Dad and Caleb. It was nice to get to talk to Dad...we both stay pretty busy with work, and I'm ashamed to say that I don't look for opportunities to hang out with him enough. My Dad is a great guy. He's giving, he has a laugh that makes you laugh (it's contagious, truly), and he really tries to be the best man that he can be. We got to talk some about gratitude and thankfulness, and he talked about fellowship and love. He's such a great teacher... and we were only interrupted a couple of times by a little voice from the back. Mostly to answer questions that Dad asked me. We both got so tickled at Caleb... he is truly a funny kid. Unless you are tired. Or unless you are Kami.

Breathitt pulled out a great win over Hazard with a last second pass under the basket from Alex Hamilton to Jordan Bellamy, who dunked it to go ahead by 2. (Remember me talking about feeling old... yeah, those are two other culprits, considering I can remember them being born). Caleb and I are always confused. I'm always afraid I'll yell out the wrong team, but I do love my sports, so I guess it's all good. Proud of those Bobcats...

Then, ride home. Me, Mom, and Kami in the backseat. Caleb thought he had control of the radio. Grandma Karen put her foot down and we listened to the 60s station. Caleb wasn't impressed. But it was a good time with family.

Tomorrow- Hopefully I'll have something a little more meaningful... plan for Steelers football. More resting and reading. Life, lived. Blessed. Hope yours is the same.

Friday, January 6, 2012

On Getting Older

I feel old tonight. Not really old, but old enough. It's not really about an age thing. I mean, I feel young. I don't think I'll ever be the kind that gets upset about getting older... turning 30 didn't bother me... so I don't foresee turning 40 or 50 will bother me, either. However, I feel old when I think about some things. Like Holly getting married. Or Kami graduating and going to college. Tonight, what made me feel old is realizing that me and Wallace have been in this thing for a long time...

Tonight we played Hazard. Wallace was on his end of the sideline, stomping, jumping, yelling, stomping, and yelling some more. On the other end of the sideline, also yelling and stomping, and looking kind of similiar, is the reason I was feeling old. You see, I can remember when the other guy on the end of the court was just a little thing. I've went to church with his family almost all my life. And Wallace coached him as a freshman in high school. They won the freshman district tournament with a great group of guys, then came and crashed at my house (a single wide trailer with one bedroom, a couch and a recliner... I spent the night with my Mom!) I watched Tyson grow into a great basketball player, and tonight he proved that he's made a fine coach, too. Of course, he started out right, with a bunch of girls at an EKU summer camp who talked their coach's wife into taking them to Walmart, where they bought the necessities for a homemade slip n slide to build in the dorm's hallway...that's a story for another night, and one that I'll not soon forget!

So, I guess the point that I'm trying to make is, You are only as young as you feel. And I think we've got a while to go. I hope so, at least. I know that my "life is just a vapor.", but I'm going to enjoy it while it's here. Everyone has a purpose in life, and we're here to build others up, and encourage. This includes fostering the younger generation, supporting them and helping them do everything they can to reach their optimum potential. And that also includes being proud of all of these nurses, teachers, coaches, PTAs, etc. that Wallace and I have "helped" raise... and I'll take the credit for most of them. They've made this coaching Mama proud =)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Joy Dare: 1000 Gifts, A Year of Grace, 2012

"Joy is always a function of gratitude- and gratitude is always a function of perspective. If we are going to change our lives, what we're going to have to change is the way we see."- Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts

How easy it is to be negative. I was born with a negative gene in a mostly happy family. I was so negative that all my Dad prayed for when my Mom was pregnant the second time was a happy baby. (He told me this once as a joke; however, as I think back to my young years as I can remember them, I have to wonder if he really was joking. And he got his prayer in Holly...) But what's fun about negativity? What's so great about bringing a storm cloud with you? It makes you tired, makes everyone around you miserable, and is completely unbiblical. We are supposed to "make a joyful noise until the Lord." "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Joy is promised to us as a fruit of the spirit, but to be honest, there are lots of times when I don't feel so stinking joyful. In fact, I feel just plain stinky.

Then I read 1000 Gifts. It is eloquently written, above my head. I've blogged about it before. It makes you think of plain old ordinary life as something special, another topic I've mentioned in this blog. And as you start looking for the positive in things, looking at what you can be thankful about in a situation rather than what you can complain about, it happens. A small seed of joy starts sprouting, because deep down you realize it's not as bad as what you thought. In fact, you've got it pretty doggone good.

One of my resolutions was to keep a gratitude journal, so I was excited when I went to Voskamp's blog and found a recipe for gratitude. 31 days worth of things to be thankful for. I quickly wrote them down and caught up to today, except for day 3, and to be honest, I don't have the memory to think of three things I overheard that day that I found grace in. Guess I'll just have to do a better job eavesdropping tomorrow... and cover my ears when my husband yells, "Dadburnit" at the ballgame tomorrow night. Grin.

Just to give you some ideas, in case you'd be interested in taking this journey along with me, some of the things I've been thankful for this last week are: my weaknesses, snow and heat (on the same day... and leftover cake from New Year's Eve)... my new Bible, my blue Uggs, and my old computer that my Dad bought me so I could get through graduate school (all gifts from someone else), Jesus Calling, and my job. A wide range of things, and there are many other interesting things in the rest of the month. Because it's all about you looking at the ordinary... that's when you realize that, to you, it is extraordinary. And in the extraordinary, we see grace, and when we focus on grace... well, there's joy. Joy unspeakable.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Time Waits for No Man

One of my new year's resolutions was to get more sleep. I have always been a night owl, and I've been okay with that, but the last couple of years I've been crazy, trying to burn the candles on both ends. I've also been grouchy, cranky, and not able to think well sometimes as a result of it.

It was pretty easy for me to think about this resolution coming off of Christmas break. We all slept late, got to bed about midnight, and to be honest there were several days when I took afternoon naps. Coupled with the idea that wintertime means hibernation for other species, I kind of get the idea that it's okay to want to stay in the bed. Nothing like climbing under the covers when it is cold outside.

Then, reality. And meetings. And syllabi and unit outlines and promotion notebooks and a to do list that just keeps multiplying. And homework and exercise and all of the other stuff I've just got to do, like get on Facebook and read on my Kindle. Not to mention that ANOTHER one of my resolutions was to read my Bible and spend more time focusing on God... which should have always been my priority. How does a girl fit it all in?

Prioritizing. God first. Family second. Work third. So, I've been trying to start the day off right and read my Bible. I'm reading my Chronological Bible through and I really like it. I'm also reading a Jesus Calling devotion that is wonderful; I read my version in the morning and one for kids with Caleb at night. That's been great, until today... when I had to be in Hazard at 845 for meetings. I'm not a morning person, and getting up has never been my strong suit. So here I am, already almost 11 PM and I haven't read my Bible today. Sometimes the day doesn't always go by my priorities, or my plan, as I mentioned yesterday...

Time with family has been rough today, too. Wallace had ball practice, Caleb stayed for after school, and they didn't get in until 630. It was time to leave for church then. Wallace was in bed by the time we got home, but Caleb and I have had some interesting conversation, and I got to stop by and see my little sister, who had her wisdom teeth cut out today. I also got to sit by my Dad in church, which is always good. He's kind of loud. He likes to Amen and laugh out loud, but it's the kind that makes you feel good on the inside, so it's all good.

Work... Simman training, which was interesting, for the most part, but a long day. Good day, though, with some great co-workers, and lots of laughs. Not much checked off my to do list, but there's always tomorrow and Friday before the real fun starts next week.

So today flew by, and by the time I get my Bible reading in, it will be a new day. A few hours of sleep and I'll be ready to do it all over again. And while I'm not getting to bed as early as I'd hoped, I'm thinking that God's grace is sufficient to get me through tomorrow. His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:23). I'm just thankful for the minutes He's given me, the opportunities that I have. My prayer is that He will help me determine how to best use the time I've been given to give Him glory. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just the Normal

At the beginning of the New Year, I sat down and came up with what I wanted to do to make myself a better person. One of those "resolutions" was to blog every day. How will this make me a better person? Well, it gives me the opportunity to talk about my feelings in a constructive manner. Let's face it, things just look better sometimes in black and white. And when you type something negative, well, it seems so final... that you go back and hit the delete button and start thinking of things in a more positive manner. I've been trying to do this in my head, but my thoughts are just too fast sometimes, but I have been trying to "gratify rather than complain." By this, when I start to say something negative, I think of the positive for it. For example, when Caleb was doing his homework, he got really tickled. He does this as an escape tactic, has for years. Usually I end up getting upset, but today, I tried to count to ten, look at him, and laugh with him. Time wasn't wasted because it was a good time with my boy.

I knew when I started writing this consistently that I wouldn't have something enlightening to say every day. I'm just not that smart of a person. But what I do have to offer is a normal, day-to-day existence, and you can learn a lot from this. Or at least, I can. I went to the office today with a list and a plan. Not much on that list got checked off, and I totally went off my plan, but that's okay. I still had a semi-productive day, and got several small things checked off. I rode home with the two most handsome men in the world. I sat and helped with homework... unplugged, no computer in my lap, no cell phone in my hand (for the most part), and tried to devote my undivided attention to multiplication with regrouping. I am ashamed to say that it took my total attention to assist with that. (I'm better with words than I am with numbers... that's not saying much!). I spent some time with my Mom and some time with my Mother-in-law. I spent 45 minutes with my treadmill and the Kentucky Wildcats. I read Jesus Calling for Kids with Caleb and laughed some at old pictures.

So while today wasn't really anything special, it was a day. 24 hours. 1440 min. 86,440 seconds. Nope, nothing that I may remember this time next year, but it was time well spent. And maybe that's the most important lesson. Maybe that's what I need to learn the most this year... to take nothing for granted, to live every minute completely. To love and laugh and hurt and cry and just... Be. Because in the end, that's all I've got, the every day, mundane, normal, ain't nothing special but it's mine life that God has given... and that ain't nothing special is enough... because His grace is sufficient.

Wow, I wrote a lot even though I thought I had nothing to say... grin ;-)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Changing Times... Trusting God

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Today was a big lesson in trust. Today, after three years at Highland-Turner, Caleb went to Jackson City. I know, this might not seem like a big deal to most people, but to this Mama, who had walked that baby into the school building every morning for three years (well, most mornings), it was tough. To see him climb in his Daddy's truck and not know what was going to happen when he got there. I wasn't worried about him making new friends. He knows a lot of the kids up there and he has an extended family of sisters that will have his back, not to mention a couple of older cousins. He's generally a friendly kid, and never sees a stranger, so that wasn't my worry, I guess. But it was new. For him. For me. Highland-Turner was a comfort zone. Both of my younger sisters went there. My grandma taught there from the time it opened until she retired 15 years ago. They have wonderful teachers and staff, and a really family-oriented atmosphere.

I'm happy to report that Caleb loved his first day. He loves his new teacher, he's happy that he's got several kids he knows in his class, he liked his classroom. He especially loves that his Dad is right across the hallway from him. He's not so happy that he has to get up and go to school tomorrow, while Kami doesn't. He wasn't really happy to sit down and work through the math packets, but it was no worse than what I'm used to with homework. He literally talked the whole way home, from me picking him up at Lees gym until we got to Shoulderblade Hill...

Which is where the real story about trust came in. YOu see, I KNEW Caleb would be okay today. The people at Jackson have welcomed us with open arms since Wallace started coaching, Caleb knew lots of people, he's a smart kid, and Daddy was right there with him the whole time. At Shoulderblade Hill, I was forced to truly trust. I HATE driving in the snow. I am not a good driver. I am far from a confident driver. I've wrecked on Shoulderblade Hill and dreaded it ever since. I knew there had been a wreck. I knew it was getting colder. I knew that Hill would probably be bad. But as I sat stopped on the top of that Hill, knowing that I'd only started the trek because the bad part is going down, and my life was right with me sitting in that front seat, I became scared. No, scared isnt' the word. I was TERRIFIED. My heart was beating 200 beats per minute, or it felt like that, anyway. Caleb started getting nervous. His voice started trembling. My gas gauge was on low and Caleb, the observant one picked up on it. We sat there for at least 30 minutes waiting for an accident to be cleared and the salt truck to run. We talked. We laughed. We prayed. We sang. We prayed some more. And then we started moving. As we crept down that hill, my baby prayed and prayed. When we got to the bottom, he said, "You know, Mom. You can do all things through Christ."

Now I'll be the first to admit that I was still scared. But I KNOW that God is faithful. I've been reading this verse over and over the past two days, and it is the verse that I claimed as my life verse last year. Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Today, I overcame fear once again, but it was only because I know who is my strong tower. As I heard my brave little boy tell me I can do all things through Christ, I realized... I can. You can.

God hasn't given us a spirit of fear. He's given us one of love and self-discipline, and power. I'm learning to trust him. It's a slow process, but I'm beginning to see that if I trust Him to work it out, he will truly make my paths straight. Even on an icy, snow-covered, crooked mountain road =)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012- Plans, Hopes and Dreams

"Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how they were before and feel like failures. This year I challenge you to a new resolution. I challenge you to just be yourself."-Aisha Elderwyn

As I mentioned yesterday, every year I resolve to make changes, but never fully live up to those resolutions. I know that those people who talk about making resolutions at New Year say to focus on only one or two things, and you'll be more likely to succeed. Some say not to even make resolutions at all, because when you are unsuccessful, it only makes you feel worse about yourself. When I look at my life, though, there are several things I want to change, and the new year is always a great time for reflecting. I know starting out that I'll come up short, but one of my favorite quotes is "Always reach for the moon, because if you miss, you'll still land amidst the stars."- Les Brown. That being said, here are some of the lofty goals I have set for myself.

First and foremost, I want to be a "better" person. I recognize this is pretty general, so by saying this I want to be happier, more patient, more even-keeled. I want to do better at being a wife (and yes, housecleaning falls under this title... yuck), I want to do better at being a Mom, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better teacher. This goal is going to take a lot of work, because it puts me out of my comfort zone. Listening first, and long. Keeping my mouth shut. Counting to ten. Being more patient. Tolerating, even seeking, extroversion when what I really want to do is go home and read a book.
One way I see to help me do this is more quiet time alone with God. Reading my Bible all the way through (I am really excited, Holly got me a chronological Bible to help with this goal), and being more disciplined about my praying. (Sometimes all I get to is "God, please help..." or "bless so-and-so.") Doing more in-depth Bible studies... I want to try to do at least 4.

A better me means a healthier me, too. Exercise more. Get at least 10,000 steps/day. Lose weight (at least 20 pounds would be nice, if I could push past that, great!) Sleep more... good quality sleep, not an hour here and three hours there. Go to bed at a decent time. Use my time wisely... make each moment count. Be more organized, procrastinate less... be less stressed out 24/7.

More me time: read at least 75 books. Blog every day, even if it is just a couple of sentences. Take a pic every day of something that has defined that day. Reflect more. Laugh more...and start taking myself less seriously. Keep a one sentence, every day gratitude journal with at least three things I am thankful for. Cross one thing off my bucket list.

2012 is looking to be an exciting year- Kami graduating, Holly getting married, and who knows what else on Twin Cedar Road? I can say I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the challenge of improving myself, and maybe influencing someone else in the process. Proverbs 16:3, "Commit your action to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Give this year to God, and you'll be amazed at what He will give you in return. Good luck on your new year's resolutions. If you're not sure where to start, I'd highly recommend the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben. Many of my ideas came from her book... and her attitude about life was so like mine it was scary! Happy New Year!!!