Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tough Questions

Caleb's favorite phrase is, "I have a question." I've written before that sometimes I have the answers, but a lot of times I don't. Tonight was one of those times that I had no idea how to answer...

Dad had found a baby bunny rabbit at my Grandma's house. Apparently, her dog had packed it onto the porch and Dad had rescued it. I'm no animal expert, but I have seen death in the face of patients I've cared for, and I knew when I looked at that rabbit that it was going to die. Maybe not tonight, but soon. Caleb, on the other hand, did not. He was so excited! He got a little milk and a dropper and tried to feed it. He wrapped it in an old tee-shirt in a box and looked up how to care for a rabbit.

  And when we got home from Pig out in the Park, the inevitable happened... the rabbit was dead. He cried. Much more than what I thought. "But I tried, Mommy. Everything that I knew to do. Why does God do this?"

Wow... how do you answer that one, oh Mom who never has answers to easy questions. So we talked about sin and how because of it everything has to die. We talked about heaven and how I wasn't sure that animals go there, but that God has a purpose. My Dad talked about how God knew when even the smallest sparrow fell from the sky so that he knew the rabbit had died.

We had a burial. Dad let Caleb help him put the rabbit in a box and wrap it up. He wrote the rabbit's name on the box. Dad dug a hole (not 6 foot, as Caleb wanted, but a much more shallow hole, in proportion to the size of the rabbit.) Dad spoke over the rabbit, and we said a prayer. We did not read scripture or sing as Caleb wanted. I fought back tears while trying not to laugh, too... because it was just precious.

  I still don't know all the answers, and I never will. But I do know that when I don't know the answers, and when we are full of sorrow over things we don't understand, God knows. He knows how we feel, and He knows how to comfort us. His grace is sufficient.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Welcome Home

After a week (well, 5 days) on the beach, I'm a little spoiled. We came home to temps of over 100 degrees, hot and smothering. I had no more packed my bags in the house than I was thinking of how peaceful it was to sit with my toes in the sand, book in hand and breeze whipping the waves up over my legs.

But I'm here. In Kentucky, and for now this is where I'm supposed to be. So I loaded my vacation pics up, took one last look at the peaceful beach, and settled in for the night.

Has anyone else ever noticed how time seems to speed up when its vacation time? Another busy week lined up next week... and how is it that it is almost July already?

Tomorrow is full of housecleaning and putting up clothes (thanks, Nana Helen for washing them all up before we left the beach). Pig out in the Park and the Duck Race... a whirlwind of run and do and accomplish.

But if every day was a vacation, then we'd be bored, right?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teach Me...

I'd love to be a professional student. In fact, I probably am considered one... I've been in school for as long as I can remember. I actually love to study, like buying school supplies, like reading and writing essays and taking notes. Some classes I don't like as much as others, but I actually enjoy learning new things.

If you read this blog much at all you know that I also like to do Bible studies. Right now I'm reading a couple of books and participating in small group studies; one on I Used to be So Organized, one on Grace for the Good Girl, one on Proverbs 31, and then today I am so excited to start Kelly Minter's Nehemiah, with Beth Moore leading it.. and have I mentioned how excited I am?

Today, Beth posted a series of verses for us to read. Psalm 119:129-135, "Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands. Come and show me your mercy, as you do for all who love your name. Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil. Ransom me from the oppression of evil people; then I can obey your commandments. Look upon me with love; teach me your decrees."

These verses are great for a professional student like me! Teach me Your Word... it gives me light, so that the simple can understand. Oh, Lord... I need this! I need something simple, because even sometimes it's hard for me to understand the simple things. Show me your mercy... because I need it. I need all the mercy and grace I can get!!! Look upon me with love... isn't that wonderful? That He looks at us love even when we don't deserve it?

Goes along beautifully with my verse of the week from one of the other studies. "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long"~Psalm 25:4-5 NIV 1984

Think Someone is trying to tell me something? Lord, open my eyes and ears to You... and teach me your ways. For you are good, and your mercy endures forever. and Your grace is sufficient.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

One of my favorite Christmas songs really isn't a Christmas song.. it's from The Sound of Music. And I'm not really sure why I'm thinking of that song in the hottest time of the year, but I am... so here goes, a few of my favorite things right now.

My Kindle. And They have lots of really good books that are... FREE! I "like" Pixel of Ink and Inspired Reads on Facebook, and they send out notifications of recommended books. I've found some really good books that I probably never would have read.

Pentel ink pens... in purple. Caleb bought a pack of pens a few weeks ago and there were a variety of pens in different colors, so I took all the purple ones. I love the way they write... and there is just something about a clean piece of paper and bright purple ink.

My 31 cosmetic case... that I am using as a Bible Carrier. It's the perfect size, and has a pocket for my purple pens and another pocket for all of my notecards. Love, love, love 31!!!

Coconut Lime Verbana lotion/shower gel from Bath and Body Works... and Vanilla Lime Candle from Yankee Candle Company. I really hadn't liked lime until recently, but I'm hooked.

Quiet time... just me. As I'm getting older, I'm turning into more of a hermit =)

Can you believe June is almost over? Before I know it, I'll be writing about my favorite things for Christmas... oh, my!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Always Behind... Always Responsible

There's a joke about some members in my family.  Perhaps I am one of them, perhaps I am not... anyway, the joke goes that you need to tell them you're doing something an hour behind, because they are always late. 
That feels like me. 
Always behind. Always late.  Always running, running, running from everything that I need to do. 

Because I can't say no.  Didn't you know?  I'm responsible for making the world spin...

In Grace for the Good Girl (which, by the way, just to show you how I'm always late, held group discussions on Thursday.  Today is SUNDAY...) this week we read about the mask of being responsible.  Emily wrote about how we often feel responsible for things which we are not.  Other people's salvation (I've even preached my beliefs to them.  Let's be honest.  It doesn't matter HOW Caleb does a gratitude journal, or that he even does one... just that he learns to be grateful.  Yet last night as he was writing his I'm thankful fors, he was constantly asking me if he needed to do this or that.  Obviously, someone has done a little too much lecturing to the little guy...).  We feel responsible for other people's mistakes, other people's decisions, and other people's happiness. 

Something struck me... has struck me through this book and another book I'm reading at the same time (I Used to be so Organized).  I take responsibility because it's expected... not by anyone else, but by me.  As the bossy big sister, I took responsiblity (well, I didn't know that was the word) because I wanted attention.  Acceptance.  I wanted to be the one who was known for doing everything... so sign me up for something else.  Do people really expect me to do everything?  No... but they'll appreciate me trying.  Because sometimes it means they don't have to do anything... and doesn't everyone want the easy way out?  (Except me...and all you other good girls out there.  We tend to struggle with the easy way.  In fact, Wallace has even told me, "You like to make things difficult.")

I take responsibility when something goes bad... maybe not out loud, verbally, to anyone else (because that would be like admitting I make mistakes, and good girls don't make mistakes).  I take responsibility internally, and beat myself up over things for days... even after I've forgotten how it was supposed to turn out. 

Yet I find it hard to accept responsibility for good things.  I become embarrassed whenever someone acknowledges me.  I don't want to rush into a thank you because I don't want to seem like I think I deserve it. 

And then, as I look at my schedule, I start to feel resentful.  The passive aggressive Lauren smiles on the outside, but on the inside I'm fuming.  "Why did you ask me to do this?  How could you expect this from me?  Don't you know how busy I am?"... Ummm, no.  They don't.  They asked you because they wanted your help, but there's always the option of "No.". Imagine that...

While I'll probably always be a recovering "Yes m'am... you can count on me." I'm starting to see the value of not accepting responsiblity.  Even when I'm the one doing the work, He's the one working through me.  That whole weakness made strong verse?  I could scream it from the rooftops... except then I would draw the wrong kind of attention to myself.  So instead, I'm asking Him quietly to help me not assume responsibility.  To help me lean on Him.  To help me stop being late because I'm trying to do so much... and to just Be.  Not a recovering good girl, but a girl covered in grace.  Grace from Him... grace from those I'm really not responsible for, and most importantly... grace from me.  Because His grace is sufficient =) grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

Saturday, June 23, 2012

This is the Stuff

The house is quiet, somewhat.  I'm sitting with the computer on my lap and I can barely hear
Wallace on the phone in the other room.  It's been a long day, one of running back and forth to town, one where I'd really like to crash in the bed.  I thought I would sleep late, but ended up getting up at 8...

And the silence is broke with a little boy singing... "This is the stuff... that drives me crazy."  Oh, one of my favorite songs, because it could so be my life. Lost phone...  Lost keys... running late, always. Yep, story of my life around here. 

Jelly stuck to dresser drawers.  Stepping on legos in the middle of the night. Laundry that seems never ending.  Getting in the car in cold weather to find that the gas is just about empty... and I have to stand out in the cold and pump.  Jeans just a little too tight.  Typing up a lecture and accidentally losing it, only to find that I really didn't save it even though I've told myself time and again to save periodically...

You get the picture.  Chances are, you've got that little stuff...

And we all have this other stuff.  Like the little boy sitting in the chair writing... "TV.  Pop. Beach. Jesus. Laugh.  Baby Bates.  Pool.  Me. God. Policeman. Kami.  Phones.  Weddings.  Weston. Happiness." As he sings... he's writing his list, his 1000 gifts.  34 in one day.  Cause he's amazing like that.  And maybe, just maybe, in the midst of my little mess, I really am blessed in a big way. 

This is the stuff... that makes me smile. Thinking that maybe, just maybe... I'm doing a little something right. 

And in case you know all about that stuff, enjoy the link!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gifts around the Table

He's quiet as he looks at the menu, a little stooped in his chair. Fingernails with a little bit of grease there, no matter how much he scrubs.  It comes from 60+ years of being a mechanic, of providing for a family of four girls and two boys, of hard work and long days and naps in the recliner. 

And next to him, a little loud, a little rambunctious, swirling the spaghetti on a fork and barely missing his full cup of Dr. Pepper.  Hair spiked up and glasses down on his nose.  This fourth generation around the table.. my wild man. 

Shared histories, stories we all know but still laugh at.  The two girls at the end heading off to college in the fall; those special gifts who I'm sure sometimes wish they didn't share a birthday, but they're bonded over October 8th and the nursery and this crazy, loud family.  A little on down three boys, a few years apart in years and different in personalities, but common in a love for basketball and maybe even a love for family, although at times one of them wouldn't admit it.  And next to me, 16.. how?  I can remember snuggling him in the chair as we watched KET. Now, he's driving and has a job. 

Four sisters, the baby who is still the baby and the oldest who still cares for everyone around the table.  The two son-in-laws Mike... also different in temperament but special in their own ways. Wallace, who somehow fits in just right, even though he acts like he doesn't.

And he looks up and smiles as they bring him free cheesecake, and she asks for a box because she could never eat that much.  Our voices raise in a Happy Birthday, and I am struck by these blessings...

How fitting that my 1000 gifts joy dare today were three gifts around the table.  How about 19 gifts, each of them unique, but all apart of the same thread?  Thank You, Lord for 82 birthdays and for a marriage of love and for four generations...

Happy Birthday, Papaw Jr!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Coal is Not the Enemy

I try to stray away from political topics because I really don't follow politics and I guess I figure my opinion doesn't much matter anyway.  Tonight, though, I can't keep silent. 

I'm not sure it is really a political issue persay but I'm thinking that with all of the new EPA regulations and clean energy requirements, that's probably where a lot of it stems from. (and again, I don't even watch the news, so please just ignore if something I say here isn't exactly enlightened. I'm more concerned with the emotional issues in place than an argument of who is right and who is wrong)

My heart is heavy tonight for my fellow Eastern Kentuckians.  At least 500 workers have been told they have nowhere to go.  That's five hundred families with mortgages, grocery bills, kids to raise... 500 of my neighbors, regardless of what county they live in.  And to be honest, I just don't understand.

Coal mining has been a part of Eastern Kentucky culture since the very beginning.  As Appalachians, we have gotten a bad rap but we were taught to be self-sufficient and hard working.  That's gone by the wayside for some, but the coal miner is definitely one who fits the bill.  I'm ashamed to admit that I don't even know what coal mining involves... I know the difference between strip mining and underground mining and I know that regardless it is dangerous.  These folks work long hours, and the work is hard, but they do it because they WANT to do better for their families.  Despite the reputation that Eastern Kentucky has, the coal industry works to help prevent this...

Tonight, though, unemployment looms heavy and makes us wonder why we even try.  Oh, I understand the environmental issues.  I know all about run off and sludge ponds and pollution.. but if you've been to the elk viewing station here in Breathitt County (a recovered strip mine, I believe...) you'd have to argue that.  And what about all of that green grass disappearing in Lexington?  Pretty soon we won't have any bluegrass left.. .but you don't hear anyone mentioning that.

We hear about drug abuse and misuse of the system and poverty... yet the coal industry gets slammed.  It's proven that poverty leads to more abuse... and does poverty not stem from unemployment?  What options do my neighbors have?

Eastern Kentucky has its downfalls. As a nurse, I've seen the men struggle with breathing because of black lung.  I've seen the rampage of drug abuse and the empty bellies of children, their faces dirty as they ask for ice cream at the nurse's station, knowing it's a repercussion of their parent's addiction.  My heart cries for this... but we need jobs.  We need someone to quit feeling sorry for us an pitying us and featuring us on news stories.. we need action.  And my neighbors need prayer.  Uncertainty is a hard thing to face when you've got a new baby or school coming up or a new house. 

And if you're reading this, well, you've been affected, too.  That computer you're typing on, it's probably plugged into an electrical outlet, which is probably provided by... COAL.  Guess it's really not that bad, after all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The God of this City

Day 2 of being melancholy, and I've found I've kind of enjoyed it.  As I got ready for my walk, I flicked through my songs on my Ipod until I found a good Adele song and cranked it up.  Midway, as I was feeling sorry for myself because life isn't perfect (as if I didn't already know this...), Helen came and walked with me.  We talked about work and vacation and Caleb and life in general, and then when I finished my walk up the Adele was off and Chris Tomlin was on.  Kind of hard to be melancholy when a song like "Our God" is on.

Then, just when I was starting to feel a little better, like maybe life wasn't as bad as I thought it was (and it never is, right?  Sometimes we just like to feel sorry for ourselves because noone else does...) "God of this City" came on.  As I listened to the lyrics, tears came into my eyes and my heart swelled in my chest (don't you just love that saying?  We all need some heart swelling sometimes). 

"You're the God of this City, You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation
You are...You're the Light in this darkness, You're the Hope to the hopeless, You're the Peace to the restless, You are...There is no one like our God. There is no one like our God. For greater things have yet to come, And greater things are still to be done in this City..."

As I heard those words, I started thinking of our need as a nation for God to be the God of this City, nation, and people... but mostly how I needed Him to be MY God.  I was reminded of the verse, "You are the light of the world, a city on a hill can't be hidden"- Matt 5:14.  And as I was thinking of this, I thought... as I sometimes feel hopeless, as I'm in the darkness, as I crave peace because chaos surrounds me, is within me... greater things are still to come.  Greater things are still to be done... In me.  This city on a hill. 

Well Holy Ghost chills came on me as I walked.  And then, the Newsboys came on.  "Our God's Not Dead"  .  "Let hope arise and make the darkness hide... My faith is dead I need resurrection somehow Now I'm lost in Your freedom... And this world I'll overcome...My God's not dead... He's surely alive He's living on the inside."  Oh, hope arises... my faith isn't completely dead but it was definitely in need of resurrection. 

And that's how a melancholy day turns into... something so much more.  Because His grace is sufficient.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Ramblings... as if they mattered

Forgive me for being melodramatic... it's just one of those feeling sorry for yourself nights. 

I'm the girl who would rather curl up with a good book than walk into a big room full of people.  I'm not good at conversation, nor am I good at "faking" it.  It's obvious how uncomfortable I am... which only makes everyone around me uncomfortable.  Those movie scenes in the 1950s of the wallflowers? Yeah... that'd be me. 

The one who feels alone in a crowded room.  The one that smothers and can't catch her breath when faced with social situations. The one who is always fighting back tears...

Miserable?  No... I wouldn't describe it that way.  Just lonely.  Unsure of how in a world full of sunshine and happiness and community that I am so bad at it...

But it's not a world of sunshine and happiness and I'm not the only one who isn't any good at it.  There are more marriages ending in divorce and more families who are losing kids to drug abuse and more people who just give up.  We live in a world of trouble... and of feeling alone in a crowd. All of our facebook and twitter and Iphone games and blogs and texting just serve to separate us from one another.  We're good at "liking" each other and falling in love and sharing our good times... but only on a superficial level. 

Tonight I'm going to bed.  I'm turning off the computer even though I don't have all of my stats done, and I only have three days to do it in.  I'm unplugging my cell phone (well, actually I'm going to plug it in so it can charge for tomorrow) and am not going to check for notifications from anything.  Maybe if I can make it a habit others in the "community" can learn to do it, too.  After all, I survived a childhood with only a rotary dial phone... and no computer.  And back then, I even had people to talk to...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father Knows Best

I think we've already established that I wasn't the nicest kid.  I was actually pretty sassy... and mean-spirited.  And I liked to talk back.  And whine and cry, especially when I didn't get my way.  One thing I've always been, though... a Daddy's girl.

I can remember when I was a little bitty thing laying on my Dad's back in the floor.  My Dad has always had the best laugh, and I remember before he started working at Farm Bureau he always had a beard and mustache, and loved to kiss us on the cheek and tickle us with his beard.  He was the kind of Dad who sometimes didn't say much, but his actions said much more...

Working full-time and building a house all by himself, even with a broke foot, so we could have a good place to live.  Working overtime so I could have things that I wanted, even though I probably didn't need them.  Taking me school clothes shopping in the mall when I was in the 7th grade, and thinking I looked beautiful in everything that I wore.  Making sure that I got to stand in line at Rupp Arena to get Garth Brooks tickets, even when Mom had just had Kami.  Pulling up a stool next to his desk as he reconciled accounts, giving me a piece of paper to draw on, answering to his stage name Thomas Matthew, and occasionally letting me punch in numbers on the big calculator. Taking time out to help me in 8th grade Algebra... he knew the answers, but we never could figure out how to get to them.  Being a class chaperone in the 4th grade and being pretty cool at it, letting the kids he was chaperoning have a sock fight and singing Guns n Roses in the Louisville Children's Museum.  Listening to those same kids and being interested in their lives.. always paying attention to my friends and making them feel important.  Recognizing that not everyone had someone at home to love them. Dropping me off to school and not complaining when I always seemed to "miss" the bus in the evenings because I didn't like riding it. Letting me ride my bike down the hill at the dam at Buckhorn, and then over-apologizing when I lost control and got hurt.  Picking me up from cheerleading practice while Mom was at another game, and getting us dressed to meet her at the state tournament (one of my favorite stories ever.  Holly was 2 and he put one of my turtlenecks on her.  He tried...) Campfires and wiffle ball and fishing (although I wasn't allowed to fish much.. I was always too loud).  Going along with the flow on family vacation and being willing just to be the driver to so many events.  Not getting mad when we broke his office door in half at a going away party.  Riding all of the roller coasters at Kings Island over and over again, even though he knew he'd get sick.  Listening to me rant and rave, and teaching me to try to be quiet, that anger doesn't do anything but eat away at your own heart. 

Praying for Caleb when he was sick this winter and when his knee was hurt.  Praying for me during a catheter check-off in nursing school that I just knew I was going to fail. Praying for others, that he doesn't even know.  Taking me along as a kid as he visited neighbors and invited them to church.  Giving kids jobs mowing grass and tending vegetables not just because he needed the help but because they did, too. 

My Dad has taught me what it means to truly love, to love beyond measure.  He's also shown me that we don't have to be perfect.  When I was little, he had a temper much like mine, and I probably tried that temper more than Caleb tries mine.  There's been plenty of times when I've stomped up those stairs, ponytail flying, and slammed a door... but always when I tiptoed back downstairs, he was there to forgive me.  Oh, he yelled at me.  And had high expectations for me.  But he loved me, with a strong and courageous love. More importantly, he loves my Mom and he loves God. 

Every girl deserves being treated like a Princess, and I know I took that overboard sometimes, but thank you, Daddy.  Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Good Shepherd

Jesus is many things to many people, but probably one of the most well known of His "roles" is that of the Good Shepherd. He talked about how a good shepherd is willing to leave all of the other sheep to go after one stray sheep... and how a good shepherd is willing to lay down His life to keep the bear, wolves, or whatever predators are at bay away from His helpless sheep.

This morning, I can identify with this. Like a sheep, I'm kind of dumb and helpless. Excuse me for bearing my heart here, but sometimes I'm a pretty stinky Mom. Last night Caleb had a sleepover with 5 of his friends. They stayed up most of the night and I think generally had an ok time. There were a few arguments and quarrels but boys will be boys and when you get different personalities in a room, that's common. I'm trying to be laidback... but I can see me in Caleb so much. The me that got mad when my friends didn't do exactly what I wanted them to do, who planned and planned and then couldn't understand why my friends didn't want to carry out my plans. As an only child, Caleb struggles sometimes... but I had two sisters and I still struggled with wanting my own way! And sometimes I get mad at him when maybe I shouldn't. Sometimes I forget that he's only nine and I don't even want to think about how I acted when I was nine. I give grace to other kids where I don't Caleb, because he's mine and I have all these great expectations for him. I handle situations with Caleb in a completely wrong way. I say things that I shouldn't say and hurt feelings, and those things can't be changed. Sometimes I feel like I'm not good enough, or loving enough, or "Mom" enough. And I'm not...

But He is. The Good Shepherd is leading me, caring for me. He's already layed down His life for me. He ws willing to leave all of those other sheep and get me... time and again. He keeps coming back for me! And I read this verse this morning, and it almost makes me want to cry, because as much as I might mess up as a Mom, He's got my back. "He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young."

All you Mama's out there, that just gave me a breath. He'll lead me... the mother sheep with my young. I can protect Caleb, but I know He's got him too. And all those expectations I have for Caleb? I just need to give it all up... not because He's not going to do great things, but because the Good Shepherd is going to lead MY little lamb to places I can't begin to imagine. He's got oh so good plans for Caleb... exceedingly, abundant, more than I can imagine. If only this Mama sheep would quit being so bossy =)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Like Superman Icecream

Grace for the Good Girl- Letting Go of the Try Hard Life has been an eye-opening read.  To find out that there are girls out there who think like me... who hide behind "I"m Fine" and who believe they need to be perfect has been a relief... but it's a little scary, too.  So much of what she's written could have been penned by me.. except she is much more eloquent than I could be =)

One thing that really struck me this week is the need to be extraordinary.  Emily wrote that all too often we feel ordinary, but long to be extraordinary.  The crazy thought that went through my mind as I read this was: You take a kid to the ice cream shop. They've only got two flavors, vanilla and superman.  Vanilla, plain old vanilla.  Superman with its crazy colors. Both basically taste the same (although in my head I know Superman tastes better... grin).  Which one will that kid choose?  You know the answer... the red, blue, and yellow swirls are too tantalizing.  Extraordinary Superman is so much better than ordinary vanilla.

Now, let's change the scenario.  Enter Cold Stone Creamery (this post is making me hungry).  You walk up and down the rows and look at all the toppings and mixtures... but what do most of their creations center around?  Ordinary sweet cream.  It's the basis for all of the ice cream... regardless of the flavors.  Some people just like different toppings.  And we, as people, have different personalities (or flavors).  Does that mean that we're less than?  Maybe I am a vanilla... sweet cream.  Does that make me any less than rocky road?  (and now that I'm typing that, I don't think I'd like to be similiar to rocky road.  My road is rocky enough... groan).

We don't have to anything but ordinary... because we serve an extraordinary God.  He loves us just the way we are but wants to mold us to be more like Him.  And sometimes, even though ordinary may be a little boring, it's just what we need. =) grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This Great Pilgrimage

I love to go on vacation. I like planning vacation, and looking at pictures of the ocean and imagining I'm sitting there. I've got a bucket list a mile long of places I want to go before I die. Sadly, I'll never make it to many of them, but I'll enjoy the places I do get to see... And so today, I'm dreaming of the ocean. As I'm scrubbing the sink that is filthy nasty (have I mentioned how I HATE dirty dishes, and how very blessed I am to have a husband that will do these for me?), I'm thinking of the sun on my skin and my feet digging into the sand as the waves run over my toes. The majesty of the water crashing into the land... I could stay there forever.

  And then I remember that I'm not there yet... so I move to the next room and begin to pick up pop cans and wipe up jelly on the dresser in the bedroom. As I sort through the clean clothes and fold them, I pray for those who will wear them... as I fold my Breathitt Football shirt I pray for Brayton and all of his friends, as I fold my UK tee-shirt I pray for Kami and decisions she'll have to make. I pray for Caleb and for Wallace. And still I dream... of a time when maybe I can just do nothing... Housecleaning is not my favorite thing to do... in fact, I really despise it. As I worked in my house seeing all the things that needed worked on, I thought of that dream place- that island where the water is crystal blue and the sun is hot.

Then I sat down and read Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience today. In this, she writes, "In Christ, you’re a native of heaven right now. You aren’t a citizen of here trying to work into heaven. You’re a citizen of heaven trying to work through here." For a pilgrim/vacationer like me, I love this! This housecleaning, this rising early to work and the never ending pile of laundry, is just temporary. I don't even have to work for my ticket... it's already been bought and purchased by the blood.

On this earth, we go through troubles, and I'm not talking about housecleaning. Death, illness, heartache... all you have to do is log on Facebook or turn on the TV and you can bury yourself in it. Jesus told us this, in John 16:33, "For in this world you will have touble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." We don't have to be burdened by our troubles, because they are only temporary, and we're just working our way down here to occupy the time until our ticket is punched. In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 (the famous chapter about everything having a season, we learn that "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Everything is beautiful... even tribulations. Beauty can come from ashes. And when we don't feel that beauty, when we're longing for that something else that we know life has to have, when we're longing for another destination... it's only natural. We were made for eternity, and that longing is for God's Heaven and his presence.

And I thought it was just the housecleaning making me long for something else =)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This morning one of the verses I read was Psalm 118:34, "This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." Ever had days you just don't feel like rejoicing? It may be that you had a truly horrible day. It may be that you just feel like nothing is going your way. OR maybe there's no reason for it. Like today... I woke up too early and Caleb got up too early and I was so tired. I didn't get to do my quiet time in the morning like I wanted to. It was dark and gloomy outside and all I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed... I definitely didn't feel like rejoicing. The Psalmist says, "Will rejoice and be glad..." which means that it is a choice. We can choose to rejoice. We won't always be happy... happiness deals with our circumstances. We can rejoice, because we can develop a joyful attitude through the Spirit within us. Even as I tried to keep this in mind, I was still grouchy and short. I still quarreled at Caleb. I still am too tired and can't believe he's still going almost 18 hours later. Even though I had blueberry pancakes and visited a Christian bookstore and watched a movie and laughed with Caleb, even though I got to hang out with my Mom later on this evening and take a bubble bath and finish a Janet Evanovich novel... I've still been a grouch. Sometimes even when we choose something, it is difficult to make it manifest. I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day, even though my plans are cleaning house and working on Stats. Maybe the sun will shine and I can sneak in some time by the pool. Maybe I can sleep a little late, or at least get in my quiet time in the morning. Or maybe not. I do know that God's mercies are new every morning... and I'm counting on that.

Monday, June 11, 2012

1000 Gifts... and More

Last year I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I've written about it several times since, and am participating in the Joy Dare, Counting 1000 gifts in 2012.  (For more information, visit

Gratitude truly is a habit that we cultivate.  I've learned to pause and re-evaluate.  Sure, I still have days when I complain more than I smile.  I still have days when I am negative and am my own raincloud.  I've found, though, that my sunny days far outweigh my gloomy ones, though... and it's because I choose to give thanks.

Giving thanks for a walk in the near-rain, where there is a low mist just damp enough to cool you off, and getting 45 minutes in before it starts raining.  Giving thanks for working with some pretty awesome people, even in the summer.  Giving thanks for a ride in the car with Caleb and laughing at wrong turns and difficulty parking, Caleb laughing so hard he loses his breath.  Giving thanks for stats class almost over and I'm still surviving and the opportunity to take classes.  Giving thanks for fill-ins for nails and Bible studies and Diet Coke. 

It's often the small things that mean so much.  So... what are you thankful for?

Today's challenge was three gifts painted, and I found this one hard.  I cheat sometime in those cases... so today I'm thankful for new fill-ins on my nails (which were painted clear), laughing with Caleb (whose fingers were "painted" with McDonalds apple pie filling), and my car (which has a dirty paint job but still drives good). 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sundays are...

Sundays are for reflection and rejuvenation. Sundays are for diving into God's Word and fellowship with His people. Sundays are for long naps and long walks and long conversations. Sundays are for slowing down and cherishing. Sundays are special... God took a day to rest, a day to be Holy and set apart from the rest of the week, so we should too. Today my Sunday plans- reading, napping, time by the pool, and an evening walk.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Name of God I Needed

This morning in my devotion time I read about Immanuel, the With us God, from Mary Kassian's workbook Knowing God. (I know, everytime you get on here I'm reading something different. We won't talk about the number of books I'm studying at the same time. Let me just make a disclaimer that I don't read them all everyday, and they seem to go magically together. I'm following along with different reading groups, so I may read up to three of them in a day, plus my Chronological Bible. But I digress...) Anyway, as I was reading that lesson, I really thought of how much I need this. Oh, I need God in all of the facets of His name, but what I need on a day to day basis is this "With us God".

As I reading my Chronological Bible before jumping into Knowing God, my entry for the day was from Isaiah 7-10. In Chapters 7 and 8 (and please read my disclaimer here that I am no biblical scholar, and when I read this Chronological Bible it is just me reading through. I don't delve deep into the content... this year. Grin) from what I gather, Israel has been divided into two kingdoms for a while and have yet again not been following God the way they are supposed to. Enter Isaiah, the prophet of the Lord, who enters and tells them of their impending destruction. As he talks about them straying from the Lord and how they will be overtaken, he makes the statement, "Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.Isaiah 7:13-14. He then goes onto to speak of how Assyria will essentially take them captive.

Later on, in chapter 9, he again mentions this "With Us God". In the midst of turmoil, He is a promise. "The government shall be upon His shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (And let me just say as I type those words I'm singing them in my head. And His name shall be Call-ed Wonderful!... Counselor!... as Handel's Messiah)

He WILL be the Prince of Peace. He WILL set up a kingdom. He IS the Mighty God. He IS everlasting. So even if you are facing troubles today, take heart. We've been promised this With us God. Today, in the middle of your troubles... and someday a returning King, who will take us to live with Him in glory. Immanuel... God With Us.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Reflection of Hope

I'm writing early today because I'll be away from the computer overnight. It's one of my favorite days of the year, Relay day. For those of you who may not know, Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society's signature fundraising event. Held in countries around the world, it is an overnight event to demonstrate that cancer never sleeps. A cancer patient must battle his or her disease day in and day out.
I've been involved in Relay for several years. My family has a team in honor of my Grandma and Grandpa, both who are cancer survivors. Relay truly is a family event, and even though it's hard work (all those fried apple pies...) we still love it. We Relay because...

Relay gives back. It gives us a chance to be a part of a greater community. We are joining with others, not just in Breathitt County, not just in Kentucky not just in the US, but around the globe. Cancer has affected nearly everyone one way or the other.

It gives us hope. My Mom likes to tell about a childhood friend who died from leukemia. If she had been diagnosed now, chances are she probably would have survived. Hope is present even if sometimes it is small.

One shining light of hope will walk the track tonight. There are so many cancer survivors who I love. I've had them as patients, and cared for their families. In samll towns, it's hard not to know everyone. WE have survivors who come back year after year to get their pins. Tonight, though, I know one survivor who will make the night extra special.

A couple of months ago I wrote about Rosa, who was in a car accident and had a traumtic brain injury. Tonight, Rosa will walk around that track a true survivor. She has fought so hard, and is stll fighting,as she was recently rediagnosed. Rosa has been such an inspiration to me. She is a definition of a true miracle.

As I read those names during the luminary ceremony, tears come to my eyes. Those little flickers of light, lining the track, representing people we love. People who have lost the fight- Guys like Todd Noble, who reminded me just before he found out he had cancer that I should treasure every minute of life while I could (me, a high schooler at a pool party complaining of being bored). Guys like Kevin Rice and Brad Lockard, who I went to school with. Wallace's Papaw Richard, who I never go to meet. Young mothers who were taken too early and patients I had in the nursing home and hospital. Then there are those who fought and won, or who are still fighting. Names on that list of my Grandma and Grandpa, family friends like Sharon Deaton and Ann Carter.

As I was at the park today, I was thinking of all I've got to do. I've got a midterm in stats due Monday and a wedding to go to tomorrow and church on Sunday. Then a small voice told me... "Stop. Look around you." The weather was beautiful, the wind was blowing, and tents were going up. Our fearless leader Patty, who is a miracle in her own right, was sitting under the picnic shelter with Caleb. It's all good.. I decided to stop worrying and just enjoy life, this minute. That's something Relay has taught me... to appreciate being able to fight the good fight.

Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back... for a world of more birthdays. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Underneath the Mask

grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

This week, I've been reading Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman. I've had this book on my Kindle for a while, and subscribe to Emily's blog, which is a beautiful combination of poetic words and pictures. Chatting at the Sky has become one of my favorite blogs. An introvert, she gets me... and doesn't even know me. So when she came forward and said she was going to go through her book this summer with a book club, I hopped on the chance. I've not been disappointed with the first three chapters.

One of my favorite quotes so far is, "The best part of hiding is being found." In life, when we try to go through it as a good girl (or good guy, as the case may be... I think guys have just as much trouble with expectations... they just may not be as emotional about it) we develop masks that cover our true selfs. I've been so afraid of failing that I've not just built a mask... I feel like a mummy =) If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I read Holly Gerth's You're Already Amazing, and it really did help my outlook. I'm slowly learning that I'm ok the way that I am. That doesn't mean that I don't fall back into my good girl ways in times of stress.

Like day before yesterday. I planned my day out (that was my first mistake... grin). It was action packed. I was working at the hospital all day in quality, then had a Relay meeting at 6. I had homework in biostats (a mid-term four days into the class. Yes, I'm a little crazy. But it's all good) and wanted to walk and just didn't seem to have enough time in my day. I kept looking at the crazy to do list...

My to do list is a summary of my masks. That may not make any sense, but it summarizes what I want to accomplish. So much of this is based on unrealistic expectations of myself. On a good day, I recognize that it's just a working list and as long as I feel like I've accomplished something I've done well. For the bad days, I let all of those tasks swallow me whole, and I freeze. I want to breakdown... but good girls don't do that, right? We smile and keep doing what we need to do, even though we feel like we are dying on the inside. Which we are... we are slowly killing our spirit, crushing it with the weight of all of that unreal stuff we think is so important.

Being found is the best part of hiding... now that I can see that I'm hiding behind my smile, I may not necessarily admit it all the time (although I'm typing this out, and that's a very scary thing. Although chances are I've bored most people to death and they stopped reading earlier... grin). However, there is One who knows my thoughts and feelings. He knows that I'm dying on the inside. He doesn't die on the inside... He came to die for all the world to see. So I could be free.

Another point that Emily made was that it is better to be free than to be safe. Hiding behind these masks, we feel safe. I'm totally in my comfort zone. I may be miserable there, but at least I know my misery. Christ doesn't want this, though... He doesn't want me to be safe in my misery. He wants me to be safe in His freedom.

So much good stuff in the first three chapters. I'm excited for next week... now off to read some more interesting stuff. Biostatistics. Yay!

The Amazing Race

Tonight I got to sit in front of the Jackson water plant for about 30 minutes. Not really exciting, but totally worth it.  You see, we had an Amazing Race in Jackson.  We had four groups of teenagers from local churches participate.  They were given scripture references they had to look up to figure where to go next.  Then, once they got there, they had to write a slogan against drug abuse (the event was sponsored by Breathitt Co. KY-ASAP). 

As I read the scripture references, I had to laugh, because there were two that I didn't get.  I would have had to call for a clue and taken a time penalty.  Our teams had no trouble, though... well, maybe they did.  And maybe there was some misspelling on one of the signs, but it was all about the competition, right? (Even though that isn't what it was really about..)

I know this analogy has been beaten to death, but tonight has made me think about our lives...which are like races.  Only they can be compared to a marathon, not a race around town.  Yesterday I had a rough day... worked all day, ran from here to there and walked and did stats homework until I cried (literally... and it wasn't even that hard.  I was just so overwhelmed. Stats class in a month? from June 4-22? I'm certifiably insane...)
But today, well... it was better. I dusted my running shoes off, did my quiet time with God this morning, worked on stats at Caleb's PT appointment, and went to work.  I helped with the Amazing Race and walked 30 minutes at the park.  I came home and took a bath and vegged on the couch, checking out Facebook and reading blogs. 

See, in races like marathons (and I'm such a runner, so you know this is every bit the truth...), you  have to take breaks after the race.  You have to let your body rest.  And in life, we have to do this, too.  Every minute of every day can't be productive.... we're not geared for that.  Yes, I could have been doing other stuff the last two hours I spent on the computer, but tonight, this is what I needed.  Tomorrow, I'll be ready to keep pounding the pavement. 

Help me run this race of life, Lord.  I'm not in a competition, but I'm in for endurance.  Thank You for water breaks and pit stops.  You are so good...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Family Traditions

Today Caleb and I helped my Mom and Aunt Lisa make fried apple pies to raise money for the Relay For Life.  My family has been making fried apple pies for years, as long as I can remember.  I'm no cook, but I enjoy rolling the dough out.  When I was in nursing school, I loved it when I happened to go to Mamaw's when she was making pies.  I'd sit and roll out the dough, fold the edges and seal the crust and not think about exams or checkoffs or starting IVs or doing care plans. I was "one with the dough" =)

So today that was my job... Caleb kept us entertained as me and Glenn rolled out those pies.  Lisa made the dough while my Mom did the actual frying. We spent about four hours all together and made about 100 pies.  During this time, we laughed about things Glenn and I had done as kids, discussed how Mamaw had mellowed out with the younger generation, and pretty much enjoyed each other's company.

Someone commented on my status and said, "Enjoy making memories.  They are sweeter than the pies."  How true this is... no matter what you are doing with your family, whether it be cooking or reading or vacationing, focus on the people.  Life's short and every memory counts... and those moments are sweet, just like those fried apple pies I rolled out today. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Electronic Bible?

Today Caleb and I went to church with Mom and Dad.  As usual, Caleb can't leave the house without his Ipad.  "Caleb, you can't take that into church." My Dad said as we walked out the door. "But Papaw, it has my Bible on it."  ("Or it will..." he said to me.)  He hurriedly downloaded the Olive Tree Bible Software app and proudly packed that IPad to church.

As the sermon went on, Caleb diligently tried to follow along. "Where did he say?" He'd whisper to me.  It brought a smile to my face to see him type in the name of the book as fast as he could.  It made this Mama's heart smile when the verse, "His grace is sufficient" was quoted... "Is that where you got that from, Mama?"  He said, his eyes lighting up. 

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he won't depart from it.  To me, there's still nothing like a well-worn Bible, with lots of underlining and notes in the margins.  I've grown attached to my Bible... just like Caleb's grown to that IPad.  I may not teach him much.  I may not always act in the way that I should, and get angry when I shouldn't.  I'm not always the best example, but I do think that when Caleb remembers me, he'll remember a Mama who had her Bible close, and a Mama that prayed for him regularly.  And I'm counting that he'll continue that tradition for my grandbabies... it just may be electronically.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Used to be So Organized

I did, really.  I think I've written a blog about this before, about my organization habits and how they all went downhill once I started nursing school.  I have never been a great housewife, and I definitely admire all of those stay at home Moms.  And to be honest, there are so many things I'd just rather do.

However, I'm learning that disorganization in my home, my mind, my work space leads to chaos everywhere else.  It's exhausting.  I am sometimes worn out before my feet hit the floor in the morning, and running around looking for my keys doesn't help things (ok, ok... I do at least hang my keys up by the door.  I'm getting some better).

I go to bookstores and look at books that I think look good only to find them in my bookshelf at home, unread.  I buy shirts and then forget where they are.  My laundry stacks up to the ceiling and I never have anything to wear.  And have I mentioned that I am constantly misplacing things?

Every summer since I started working at the college, I have vowed to get organized. This year I mean it, for a variety of reasons.  I want my home to be welcoming.  Caleb is getting to be the age where he is wanting to have friends over, and I want to be that kind of Mom... As I've been reading Proverbs 31, I have learned that it is also biblical. It's my duty to have a welcoming,  neat home.  That doesn't mean it has to be perfect, but it does mean I have to try.

Tomorrow I'm starting a book study through Melissa Taylor that is working through Glynnis Whitaker's book, I Used to be So Organized.  To kick off my study, I cleaned my house all day long.  I tried not to smother down when I saw things that needed to be done... the walls needing washed down, the pantry that needs to be organized, closets that need to be cleaned.  Clutter everywhere.  No wonder I never wanted to get started. Instead, I worked 15 minutes in each room, and focused on laundry and my closet.  I'm nowhere near where I need to be, but so much better than I was.  And it feels good... my muscles are aching, and that's good.  I think I'll sleep good tonight...

I still have two months of summer left. I'm working about four days a week advising and helping out in Quality at the hospital (a part of being a nurse I'd never really done... I'm really enjoying it).  I've decided that I'm going to take at least 15 minutes every day to pick up my house, and work on keeping it clean.  As I do this, I can start focus on removing clutter.  I WILL do this before I start back to work, because I'm working on being that Proverbs 31 woman.  But right now I'm thanking God it's the Sabbath =)

Rainy Days

It's rained all day.  Been in the mid-60s, and a cool wind was blowing tonight as I was out on the porch.  Hardly weather for the first day of June, but seeing as we finally got the pool opened, I'm not surprised.  Seems like during the summer when I work it always rains on days I'm off and is gorgeous when I'm stuck in the hospital.  That's ok, though, because we all need a little rain.

Today Caleb and I took advantage of the rain and spent the day indoors.  We rented a couple of movies and watched them (Joyful Noise and We Bought a Zoo.  Joyful Noise was ok.  We Bought a Zoo was wonderful... a must see).  We also sat around and read.  Caleb watched TV and drew and I worked on typing labels for Holly's wedding invitations.  We enjoyed dinner with my Mom and Dad and an evening spent talking to Nana Helen and Papaw William.

Yes, the rain is gloomy, but it's good to help you slow down.  While I wouldn't like it everyday, I did enjoy it today. Most of all, I've enjoyed a day spent with my boy.  He's growing up much too fast on me, and one day he won't want to spend time with me.  That's why today I decided to soak it up as much as I could.

Tomorrow my plans are cleaning house and getting started on some Biostatistics homework.  If things were any more exciting I don't know what I'd do with myself... but that's ok.  I wouldn't have it any other way.