Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things I Learned in July

1 GADS in Bowling Green- best blueberry cake donuts ever! A hole in the wall, yes... but mmm.  I never would have known about The Great American Donut Shop if my sister Kami hadn't tweeted about wanting some Krispy Kreme donuts, and one of her friends who lived in B.G. said she had to try this place.  So, being as Jenna and I are all about our education, and part of that is broadening our horizons away from Cheddars and Gigis on our on-campus weekends, we ventured off to find the donut shop, and I'm glad we did! We'll definitely be stopping back by here one weekend.

2. Middlesboro, Kentucky is built in a meteor crater...
According to the historic marker, "Sometime in the past 300 million years..."  a meteor struck earth and left a crater, and Middlesboro was built in 1889 right smack in the middle of it.  Mindless trivia courtesy of Kami G.

3. I'm grateful I wasn't born into the royal family in England because I would never understand it.  The talk of America these past couple of weeks has been the new baby, and we held our breath as we waited for the name.  And Kate Middleton was bashed because of her new baby body- hello!  She looked stunning to me, as they left the hospital... but anyway, this led to a lengthy discussion on the way home from Green River lake as to who was alive and dead and who takes over the throne and whose title is what... and I'm still confused.  I do know that Princess Di would have made a lovely grandmother.

4. Tubing is just as fun as I remembered.  Day 2 on the lake was spent at the beach and then on the boat as we took our turns tubing.  Many Sundays growing up, my Uncle Mike would load up his boat and we would head off to the lake after Children's Church.  Most of the time we'd watch him fish and then he'd let Jen and I hop in the lake, but sometimes we would tube and they would water ski (I never was coordinated enough).  Good times... and this brought back good memories.

5. Priorities are in people, not things or tasks, and when I figure this out, I'm a whole lot happier. We had a week long extension on a paper, yet I still procrastinated and turned it in right under the wire, with only a couple of hours late... but the week was full of family time and that is the most important thing, anyway. 

6. The Sound of Music was a broadway musical before it was a movie.  I grew up on the Julie Andrews classic, and knew it was based on a true story of the Von Trapp family, but for some reason I just thought the play was based on the movie and not the other way around... and it kind of was.  A German film.  And get this. That dramatic ending where the Von Trapps escape over the hills to Switzerland?  Um... never happened. Instead, the family left Austria via train into Italy, then travled to London and then the United States (courtesy of Wikipedia.  And I'm adding the memoir to my wish list so that I can verify these details).  And the song Edelweiss, about the Austrian national flower, was written for the production... but despite these facts, the play was just as good as I remembered. 

7. Honeybees can, and do, in fact, sting each other at times.  However, if they sting another bee, they are usually able to remove the stinger themselves.  Bees are also immune to the toxins of other bees. I found this out yesterday when my son's friend stayed at the house last night, and we were sitting out watching the bees swarm around my mother-in-law's flowers.  He asked me, and of course I had to look it up. I think I found the answer on a USDA website. I guess I could have just called my Uncle Granville, as he is the expert on all things bees =)

8. Candy Crush Saga is still addictive.  I'm on level 112... and I dream about it at night.  You can, however, get a lot accomplished in 25 minutes while waiting to get more lives.

9. Penguins have knees... last night Caleb asked me this so today I had to go look it up, and yes!  Penguins have knees, femurs, tibias, and fibulas- wow!  Who knew?  And who ever thought of that... I would say only Caleb but when I googled it I typed in "Do penguins" and google finished my search with "have knees" so apparently other people have googled it, too... Here's the page where you can see more for yourself =)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Saying Yes

I know better.  I really do.  But I do it anyway. 

Yesterday morning I got up and started in on laundry as soon as I got up. No Bible time.

Sunday morning, I set my alarm for early and got up... but started right on my paper due that evening.  No quiet time for me.

Saturday morning, I don't even remember what I did.... but I ran around with Wallace and then went to The Sound of Music... but didn't crack open my Bible once.

Friday was spent on the lake and you guessed it... no quiet time.

Confession is good for the soul.

Its been sitting there, beckoning me.  I woke up this morning at 530... and went back to sleep.  I can't help but wonder if that was a wakeup call for me to spend a little time with Him.

How many times have I said yes to things that didn't amount to anything... and said No to Him, that means everything?

But His mercies are new every morning. 

And I'm saying yes...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Gratefulness

My last Monday of freedom, as I jokingly called it today, has been spent thus far in my pajamas while I folded and put up two laundry baskets of clothes.  The next basket sits in front of me, waiting...

The weather out is cool, and I'm forcing myself to fold and hang, fold and hang... because I don't want those clothes piled up when I head back to work on Thursday. 

A little work for a little peace of mind...

This summer has gone by too fast, as they always do.  So much we had hoped to get done, so much we had hoped to do as a family...

and now it's time for early mornings and homework. 

Much too soon...

Life is like that.  A vapor, right?  Here for a little while and then gone.  As I look back over the summer, I see lots of things that we did.  A trip to the beach, a trip to Texas and back to pick up Wallace.  Memories made... and laughing so hard our bellies hurt.  Books read and swimming and riding the golf cart.  New opportunities and sad goodbyes.  Two Vacation Bible Schools, where I learned that His grace is sufficient even to get me through preschool crafts and a lesson on love when maybe my heart wasn't as full of love as it should be.

And this week, counting the gifts... what a perfect culmination for this summer. 

Gifts of endings- memories and the sense of accomplishment; gifts of beginnings- new school supplies and new opportunities to grow and new people to learn, the excitement of all things new.  Fresh watermelon as the juice drips down your chin, fresh air to breathe after a summer rain, fresh water to tube in and feel like a kid again.  My Mom (her birthday was this week), The Sound of Music, my gift of sand in the jar sitting in my office window at work, reminding me on those tough days that it won't last forever.  Caleb's bedtime stories that go on and on but make me smile, him almost as tall as me but still my little boy somedays.  Gifts high such as my pictures on the wall, gifts far away such as my family in Michigan and North Carolina, who gathered for a week and let me in on the fun for a couple of days. 

Yes, this summer has flown by... and so has 2013.  But I'm so grateful, grateful for all that I expect from the future.  I know I've not been promised tomorrow... but I have been promised a future...a  good one.  And while I know there will be troubles, looking at them as growth opportunities and praising Him who works all things for good will get me, will get us, through. 

1164 gifts so far.  Join us for the remainder of the year?  It's never too late to start....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Priorities? People

It has been almost a week since I've written... and a busy week of "rest".  There were several days when I wasn't even really on my computer, and then there's been that paper that has been hanging over my head...except it really wasn't.

We had Vacation Bible School on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week.  I taught on Monday night about love, Romans 5:8, while I was a sinner. Then, on Tuesday, I sat in the back of the church and listened to story time while I scribbled out a rough draft of my paper.  The lesson was on being the light of the world, a light that is not hidden. As I sat jotting down ideas on my notebook paper, thoughts were swirling in my head about my light.  It's dim sometimes.  I can't stress how I need Him to keep lighting me, to keep flaming the fire, even though the embers may be dim at times.  Wednesday night we talked about The Bible and how we need God's Word on a daily basis.  I've been slacking... and I miss it.  My soul aches when I don't get in that Word like I need to.

Before VBS on Wed., me, Mom, Grandma Na and Caleb visited some of our cousins up at Whick to hand out invitations to our family reunion coming up.  He did pretty good but got whiny and bored.  As we were coming home, I was quarreling at him and talking about letting his light shine.  I said, "Did you let your light shine?" And he said "Well, it was dim." I love that kid but he sure does try my patience!

Thursday we had a long day, as me, Mom, Kami, and Caleb headed to Green River Lake to visit some of my family from Michigan and other parts of Kentucky.  Every year they make the trip and stay the week.  This is probably one of my favorite parts of the summer.  As a kid, I can remember visiting Aunt June and her kids in Michigan, and my cousin Kyle spent many a night benchpressing me over his head.  It's always good to see Caleb hanging out with his cousins that he might otherwise have never really gotten to know.  He keeps up with most of them on Facebook...even those he doesn't really know.  Case in point? My Uncle Sonny... I was probably in high school before I knew his real name.  Anyway, Caleb was talking to my cousin Susan and said, "So, there are Garretts here, right?" And she said "Yes." He said, 'Well,  is there a Hollis Garrett here, because I have him on FAcebook but don't really know who he is." Everyone got a good laugh over that one. 

The next day we got up and headed back out to the lake.  I tubed with Kami and Caleb tubed with Kami and we just sat around for part of the day talking and catching up.  It never fails, I can go a year without seeing them yet feel right at home within minutes.

And then Saturday.  That paper was really hanging over my head, but I hadn't seen Wallace much (what with VBS and basketball open gym for him and his trips back and forth to Berea...) so when he asked me if I wanted to ride the Ranger around the hill with him as he dozed, well, I dropped that paper and took off.  I took a book with me but didn't get much reading done. As usual, it was an adventure, as we got the Ranger stuck and then the battery ran down so Greg had to come jump us, but it was still a great time.  Then we took the Corvette to town because Caleb was in Lexington with Papaw and Nana. 
Last night I went to Jenny Wiley and watched the Sound of Music with Mom and Aunt Lisa E. This has always been one of my favorite movies. When I was little, we watched it every Christmas Eve. The songs are glorious!  I sang My Favorite Things as a duet with Jeremy Paschall my
Senior year in Chorus.  The play was wonderful, the songs were just as I remembered, Marie was fabulous, and watching it amidst the green hills made it come alive.  And the rain held off until we got in the car, so it was a perfect night.

Church today... and then that paper.  I submitted it about five hours before the due date, and it was rough... but this summer I'm getting my priorities figured out.  And yes, I do want to get my doctorate, and we are to do everything to the glory of God, with all of our hearts, but everything has its place...and this week, it was all about the people.  Not the to do list, not the calendar that is slowly getting filled up for August... but the people.  Cause they are my priority... and I can't help but think that is how God has it planned, too. 

Have a blessed week!  Hopefully you'll see more of me than you did the past week.  Back to work on Thursday... but His grace is sufficient. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gratitude of Love

The scissors are dull and it feels like I've been cutting red paper hearts for forever as the scraps of paper fall to the ground.  The theme is love and it's running through my mind, words from 1 John... Love one another.  A person with no love is dead.  Let's not merely say we love each other- let's show our love by actions...

And the scraps keep falling around me. 

Vacation Bible School in about two hours and I'm still ruminating the message.  Jesus Loves Me... and you.  And He demonstrated His love for us because while we... while I... was still sinning, while He knew that today I'd be struggling with love and with holding my tongue... He still died.  He still packed all that sin on Him, as heavy as it was, and carried His cross... carried my cross. 

How can I choose anything but love?  How can I be anything but grateful? 

And today, on this Monday following one of the longest weeks of my life, on this Monday representing a new day... I am choosing, just as I chose yesterday, just as I'll choose tomorrow, and keep choosing, because it has to be intentional. 

I choose love.  I choose grace.  I choose happiness.  I choose to see the best in others and in situations even though I may have to dig deep, because chances are they are having to dig deep, too. I choose gratitude...

Because it is thankfulness that makes the new perspective.

Linking up with Ann Voskamp and counting my gifts.  Gifts like seeing my baby baptized by my Dad and sunshine and rainbows, VBS with giggling kids and time with my family.  Blueberry cake donuts and another trip to Bowling Green.  Books and online Bible studies and peace with decisions..

And His love...  And His grace, which is always sufficient.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Belong: Right at Home

Five Minute Friday, where Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt and then opens up her blog to anyone who wants to link up.  Five minutes of no editing,  not really thinking about what you write, just getting it out.

Five Minute FridaySo, here goes.  Word of the week? Belong.  Ready, set, go...

So, it's been a rough week. Some tough decisions.  A lot of people who don't understand, and there's two sides to every story, and that's really all I want to say about it because I'm still kind of emotional. Whoever said wounds that are emotional didn't hurt... well, I don't think anyone ever said that.

But it's got me thinking. 

I just finished Anything by Jennie Allen and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  Both of them talked about being in this world but not of it, about how we are living for another realm, an eternal realm.  We don't belong here, and all that searching and trying to satisfy never will because we will never be satisfied until we reach that heavenly place. 

And I get that... I get not feeling like I belong.  Not knowing what to say to people.  Not feeling like there is anybody on my side.

And then there are places where you fit right in.  Places as familiar to you as... well, home. Like my Mom's kitchen table.  My red couch where I spend hours working on papers and lecture notes and playing Candy Crush. The worn-out chair on my front porch where I like to prop my feet up and read. 

And places from my childhood.  Last night, I walked into one such place.  I took a big deep breath and knew that even in all of the turmoil, all the chaos, all the bad... I was home.  Right where I belong... with the people who I love the most.  It may not seem like it right now... but God's got big plans, good plans, and when you pray and seek His will and finally say... whatever You want to happen, whether it is what I want or not... well, He brings you right to where you feel at home. 

His grace is more than sufficient, even when we don't know if we belong.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Gratitude of Unimportance

To live in a life of gratitude is to reframe your life, see it differently, and place the focus where it really belongs.

His Iphone is never far from his hand, and he is usually busy typing and running his finger down the screen.  The latest in technology for my boy... and he knows how to use it much more easily than his Mama. 

I live in fear of being videotaped.  Yes, he's part of that generation.  He's grown up (ok, he's only ten... but I can see him growing up every.  single.  day, which is another post and if I'm  not careful I'll start crying about it...) with facebook and twitter and instagram and now vine, and he uses them all fully (even though he technically is not old enough.  And yes, I have all of his passwords, and randomly check his sites.  Which is another post again...)

Anyhow, today I was thinking as he had that camera pulled out snapping pics of him and his cousin Will and videotaping himself doing the laundry for Vine about how his generation frames their lives.  Everything is picture-worthy.  They snap selfie pics in the mirror and post statuses "Like and I'll rate or date." or "the truth is". 

And while I get tired of that incessant camera out, and sometimes get tired of hearing from someone that he taped me singing while driving and put it on Vine and they thought it was so funny, I'm not that different. 

We live in a world that thinks that everyone cares about what we are doing.  We are a little self-absorbed- ok, maybe a lot. And while we do make decisions sometimes that affect other people, and we may even be the topic of gossip sometimes, the world really doesn't revolve around us.  Despite my insecurities, I don't have to pretend to be perfect, because somewhere in another room somewhere in another house in another state sits another woman at her computer looking at pictures on facebook and thinking she just.  doesn't.  matter. 

But we do.  Even though what we do really doesn't matter. 

The world tells us that this perspective is okay.  We should strive to be the best that we can, and yes, God wants that, too... because we are living for Him, to bring Him glory.  The world tells us, though, that we should only be concerned with self, and that to admit that our laundry is piled up to the ceiling and we enjoy sitting around in sweats and eating ice cream out of the carton sometimes, and that sometimes if we hear Mom one.  more.  time.  we think we just might die... well, to admit that means that we are less than, and noone in this world wants to be less than.

Except that is what we were called to be.  To lose our life and to die to self.  I've been reading Anything by Jennie Allen, and those words keep running through my head, because to die to self is nearly impossible, especially in a world that says we need to just keep feeding our inner rock star.

To die to self means to pause and focus on Him... and to start radiating toward Him.  One of the best ways to start this journey is to remember what He is done, and to count all of those gifts. I'm on 1120 of counting these gifts, and some of them are hard.  It's hard to be thankful sometimes for new opportunities that are scary, or for risks we have to take.  It's hard to be thankful for rain, until you see a brilliant double rainbow to remind you that His promises are yes and Amen.  It's hard to be thankful in the waiting and in the battlefield, until He brings to mind and light verses like Isaiah 40:28-31 and Romans 8:28 just when you need them.

So today, as I'm starting to reframe my perspective and step out from the me mode, I'm linking up at and counting my gifts. Gifts like a day in the pool with Mom, Kami, and Caleb, a float and a good book.  Gifts like time with Wallace and good walks on the treadmill and His Word.  Gifts like dinner at Logan's Roadhouse with my boys and singing in the truck and Diet Coke and blue skies and getting my presentation done. 

Join me?  The next half of your year starts right now.  Make it count by a changed perspective... and make it about Him.  It's always been about Him anyway.  He writes the story... He's just willing to let us be a major character. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Musings

So I hate to keep harping on the same... old... thing...

But I have a presentation due in just over 24 hours, and it's kind of forefront on my mind.

Even though it wasn't quite as forefront on my mind 12 hours ago, or even 8 hours ago.

Good day of rest and relaxation... Church, with a good message from 2 Kings 2, where Elisha asked for a double portion. 

Pooltime, where the water was warm and the sun was hot and my legs turned pink and I finished one book and read a third of another.  I might have fell asleep only to be awakened by a few scattered raindrops.  I almost took that as a sign that I was supposed to go in the house and start on my presentation, but then the clouds moved back out and the sun came back out and Kami decided to join me.  And don't judge me, but I used not just one float, but two different ones, plus the lounge chair.  Me on one float, Kami on another, and then Caleb came out and kind of did away with the peacefulness for a while.  And then another thirty minutes with myMom while Caleb and Kami were unchaperoned in the house.  I went in to expect bloodshed, but they were both in the living room, watching The Waterboy.  Guess foosball brings out the best in everybody.

So I started on the presentation, played five lives on Candy Crush, worked for twenty more minues on the presentation (so glad that they limit your lives.  They must know that true addicts really do have other things that they need to do, like laundry and sweeping and bathing and fixing microwave ravioli, and, of course, presentations) Then...the sun was still shining through my windows and the air conditioning was cold, so I took a break and went out on the front porch to read for awhle.  I mean, how can you not take a break with a view like this?
So I might have taken about an hour break.  But that's okay, because when you take a break, you come back refreshed, right?

Some more Candy Crush and a walk on the treadmill and I'm almost finished.

And it's due in just over 24 hours, but now it's time for bed.

His mercies are new every morning- and maybe my motivation will be, too!

Happy Sunday!!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Listen and Seek

If you've been reading this blog this week, you know that I've been discussing some heavy stuff.  In a world full of uncertainties, my heart has been heavy. Anxious.  Overwhelmed.  And that's not even touching the presentation on technology on healthcare due Monday that I haven't... even... started.

So, yeah, it's time for some sunshine and rainbows.

Except maybe not... because the uncertainties are still there, and doubt is still rampant, and my heart, though full well knowing that God has it all covered, is still aching for something to be settled.

It's been all about war with principalities and waiting on the Lord this week... and then I read the verses from Wendy Blight's Cultivating a Heart of Prayer.

Verses with phrases like accept my words and store up my commands and listen closely and directing your heart (Proverbs 2:1-3).  Phrases like pay attention to my words and listen closely; keep them. (Proverbs 4:20-21).  Phrases like listen, pay attention to me, listen to my words, so that you might live (Isaiah 55:3).  Phrases like seek me, call to me.  (Isaiah 55:6)

One translation said, "Incline your ear to hear." I like the word incline.  According to, incline means to have a mental tendency, or to lean toward. Lean your ear toward.  Bend down just a little so He can whisper what you need to hear.

And in this day of uncertainty and disappointment, I go on to read, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. (Isaiah 55:8)

Not my thoughts.  Not my ways.  He sees the bigger picture. 

My job, contrary to my belief, is not to plan my life out.  It's not to make decisions about how my future will go. My job is to seek His way, to "call out to insight" and to "lift your voice to understanding." It's to look to Him, and be willing to listen.

Even if it may not always be what I want to hear.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;  think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Be Present in Waiting

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for five minute Fridays, where one word is a prompt and we write unabandoned, uninhibited, for five minutes.  Today's word: Present- Go

Present- without hearing it spoken, it's hard to know which word we're to address.  Present can mean a gift... it can also mean this present time, the time we are in now.  Or it could mean present, as in giving someone something or laying it out for them... "To present my body a living sacrifice."

I guess that's why these days are so good, because everyone has their own take on the word and depending on our cirumstance, we will automatically lean toward one interpretation.

Mine is present-tense.  See, this morning God has me in a waiting zone, which I detest.  Let's just be real.  Patience may be a virtue, but it is not easily one of mine.  And I won't pray for more patience,, because I've always been told that He'll give you more, but it is a trial by fire and I'm just not up to being roasted today.

Wait on the Lord, we are told.  Wait and we will recieve new strength.  Waiting in the present tense means not worrying about what happened yesterday, because try as we might we can't change it, we can only improve on it.  And it also means not worrying about tomorrow, or what may happen in the next couple of hours.  Waiting on the Lord means giving Him your present time, the time that you have right now, and appreciating it

So I'm sitting on my front porch in the bright sunlight with my feet propped up on the banister. The wind is blowing through my messy hair, and the windchimes hanging over my head are serenading me.  The birds are chirping and the trees are singing (yes, singing... it's like a chorus as the wind makes its way through their leaves.)

Living in the present isn't so bad.  After all, it's only this very breath that I have promised, anyway... and His grace is sufficient to get me through the waiting.
Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spiritual Warfare

So, let's be real, if that's okay.  I tend to try to be a positive person... because I don't like negativity.  And there's enough abounding in this world for me to add to it... and being negative is not going to help make the situation any better. 

But today I'm having a bit of a pity party. 

Maybe it's just coming home from vacation and knowing that I've just got three weeks of summer break left.  Perhaps it's just that I'm tired. 

Maybe it's something a little bit deeper.  I've been reading in Judges for Priscilla Shrirer's Gideon study...and Beth Moore's David: Seeking a Heart Like His.  I've been spending a few hours a day completing lessons, because I'm working through them both with online groups and I'm playing catchup.  Both studies talked about spiritual warfare.  Both studies brought up the verses from Ephesians about the armour of God, so we can stand against the wiles of the devil... the schemes of the devil. 

We're fighting a battle.  It's not a battle against people or things we can see.  It's an eternal battle... but don't think that sometimes he doesn't use people to wage war against us.  Satan is counterfeit God, and God is all about relationships... so it serves to reason that he's all about tearing down our relationships.  He uses people and circumstances to get under our skin. That's why the Bible talks about being angry and sinning not, and not giving place (a foothold) to the devil. 

Sometimes we don't feel like fighting, but God tells us to stand firm.  Hold our ground.  Even if we aren't on the offensive, He doesn't want us to retreat, even when we feel like burying our heads in the sand. 

Life is hard.  There's a war waging... but we know how it ends.  We know who is on the winning side... we just have to trust in Him. 

And give ourselves a pep talk.

We are weak... but His grace is sufficient.

Monday, July 8, 2013

KillJoy or Counting Joy- You Choose

Monday dawns a disappointment in the making, back to the real-world from the magic of sand and surf and sun. 

Vacations mean time stands still yet goes by even faster.  The change back to reality is always harsh, even for me, off of work for the summer.

The magic is replaced by everyday life.  The phone ringing.  A muddy front yard.  Tasks to complete. 

This everyday life... one day at a time, much the same as the last, can be a killjoy.

or it can be a blessing- it's all in the perspective.

So often we dread Mondays.  I'm the world's worst during the school year.  Another day of waking up early, working all day, running all evening, homework, lecture work, careplan grading, clinical day with white uniforms that are sure to get destroyed by ink and mud and ketchup... and it seems that once Monday is over, the week seems to just.  keep. going.

Even today, on my summer vacation- I look up and it is nearly 2 PM.  Before I know it, I'll be getting my walk in and getting Caleb ready for bed.  Same old song, new day...

And it is a new day, every morning.  New opportunities.  new challenges.  Even in the sameness, things are new and nothing ever stays the same and change, it's coming. 

Change is inevitable.  It's part of the circle of life we see so vividly in The Lion King.  Change is hard, though...

and it doesn't even have to be big change.  I'm thinking of how I'd like to be more organized, and how I'd like to clean out my closet.  Small change... but still hard.

True change means meeting new opportunities and challenges head on.  It also means dealing with the old problems... you can't truly move forward if you're still wearing yesterday's wounds on you like a badge.  True change must come from within.  Meeting challenges means you will always have enemies, people who don't approve of what you're doing.  It may even be people in your own corner... but we have to change.  Being stagnant means death.

And it's scary.  I'm thinking of this year of grace, self-declared by myself at the beginning of the year.  Stepping out of my comfort zone sometimes means that I'm going to have my toes stepped on.  I'm going to venture out into the unknown and just possibly get hurt.  I'll lose control...

But in order to live your life you have to lose it.  And in order to live parts have to die... the old part, the fleshly part.  And I'm never really in control, anyway.

As I've been pondering this betterment of self and the change process, I've been unsettled and overwhelmed.  At the beginning of the year, I had a verse prayed over me by some very lovely ladies at Proverbs 31 Ministries.  When I read the verse at the beginning of the year, I thought, well, that's nice, but I don't know how it applies to me.  Yesterday, in a Bible study, we wrote out the first verse.  Today, in another, completely different study by a different author, the second  God knows what we need... and He knew that this week, as I'm contemplating and fretting, I'd need to hear that He is the same today and tomorrow and yesterday and forever. 

Psalm 145:13-14, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.  The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down." God is in control!  Even when I am scared of change, His kingdom is everlasting, and His control remains.  He holds me up as I stumble, and He raises me up.  And from The Message: "Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal; you never get voted out of office. God always does what he says, and is gracious in everything he does.  God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit."
A fresh start.  Change.
And this is why Monday can go from a kill joy to a counting joy, because I know Who is in control and I can see all that He has already done for me.  Counting those joys.  Past 1000- thanking God for a right word at the right time and for reading and the beach and my family, for cinnamon rolls from Lighthouse Bakery and for all of the men and women who have served and are serving for my freedom, for fireworks and knowing my family has my back and for a clean house, for Wallace's persistance in his marathon training and Caleb's persistence when he wants something, for God's persistence after my heart and showing me that He is for me... and who can be against me?  For quiet time and my KIndle and time with Caleb, laughter with friends and Dauphin Island. 
Linking up with Ann Voskamp today at, and counting these gifts that help keep the joy alive even amidst change and challenge and stress and hardtimes, because gratitude changes your perspective and a changed perspective changes you... changes everything 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cultivating the Heart

"Lauren, Lauren, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary."

One thing.

I'm the queen of to do lists... but not so much in production.  This summer, I had all kinds of plans.  Redecorating Caleb's room.  Cleaning out closets.  Working on lecture stuff.  My list goes on and on...

but still I sit.  Paralyzed, unable to know what to do next. 

So while I was on vacation, I relaxed.  I didn't think about class or work or housework. 

But my Mom did.  I came home to a clean house, an organized office, a new bedroom for Caleb. 

And a new perspective. 

There's a lot going on in life that can cause us to worry.  Jesus tells us not to worry, though.  We're to cast all of our cares on Him.  He tells us to be anxious for nothing.

What are we to do?

Pray about everything. Be continual in prayer.  Ask with a fervent heart.  Make your requests known.. not so much for Him, because He already knows, but for you.  To humble yourself, and see that you do need God. 

I need Him- that one thing that is necessary. 

And everything else will fall into place. 

So very thankful for this In the Gap study taking place on Facebook with ladies in small group Facebook studies for Melissa Ross Taylor's online Bible studies, cultivating a heart of prayer.  It's been just what the doctor ordered.  Cultivation- getting my heart ready.  Opening it up to what God has to offer.  Making sure that my heart's soil is fertile, ready for His Word to pour in, so that it can be sowed and fruitful. 

Fruitful so that I can be prepared to face whatever I will face, whatever troubles head my way. 

God knows what we need when we need it.  No worries- just that one thing that is eternal, because everything down here is temporary.  Every trouble and every worry and every bad thing that we face, every bad word spoken about us or doubt we have or struggle- it's temporary.  But His thing is permanent.  His one thing is eternal... and His grace is sufficient. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dauphin Island Recap

I'm sitting on my couch, in my clean house, reflecting on this past week.  It's been great.  Lots of food.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of fun and relaxation and realizing what is important about life.  My top ten things about Dauphin Island, if I can limit it (and in no particular order, except perhaps somewhat chronologically).

1. The drive.  Normally people dread long drives, but Wallace and I have always been good traveling companions. Thanks to my Kindle paperwhite, I can read in the vehicle.  We listen to music and he twirls my hair and ties it into knots and drinks Diet Coke.  This trip, on the way down, two Calebs kept us company for a rather uneventful trip down... only a couple of hiccups in traffic, one at a wreck that didn't even look that bad.  Wallace: "What slows you down is all of those people gawking,", to which Caleb replied, "I got some pretty good pics." Our Caleb... and the trip back was rather rainy.  An interstate was closed and we ended up going back roads through Tennessee with Katie and Heather keeping us company.  A good crew.  A long trip, but time well-spent.

And as I speak of the drive, let me discuss the bridge onto the island. Around three miles long, with a tall summit, it is unique landmark.  Wallace decided to run to the top one night.  Here's a view from our hotel.

2. Quiet time in the morning. Most days I got up and read my Bible. Some days I walked in the morning.  The peacefulness of the ocean abounded on this island set apart, uncommercialized. 
3. Ferry boat rides are awesome!  We took a ferry ride across Mobile Bay to Gulf Shores to eat at Lulu's.  It took about twenty minutes, maybe a little longer, and the view was awesome.  On the way back, we stood at the front of the boat and I got soaked, but it was so warm it felt good.  I also got spit on by a little boy who was spitting over the side of the boat.  I got a little mad so I moved away.  Later that evening, I asked that little boy (who shall remain nameless to protect the not so innocent) if he knew why I got so mad.  I explained how the spit that he thought was going in the ocean came back and hit me in the face, to which he replied, "Hmmm... maybe you should try to be more like Jesus.  He got spit on and he just smiled and prayed."  Good thing I had done my quiet time that morning.

4. Jalapeno hushpuppies and chips and queso from Lulus.  Awesome.  Here are the girls at Lulus.  Great bunch =)

5. There is no view like the one with the ocean in front of you and a book in your lap.  That's all I can really say.

Except maybe this view:
or this one:

6. The most important things in your life aren't things.  They are people.  We visited Dauphin Island with some pretty great people.  Thanks to the Spencers for being such great condo-mates for the week.. they truly feel like family, as do the Watts.  Thanks to Susan and Jenn for all of the awesome cooking.  It's not every day that you get gravy and biscuits and lasagna on the beach.  Thanks to Nana and Papaw for coming along for the ride.  There were fourteen of us in all, and for the most part it was a week of peaceful relaxation (anytime you have kids there is going to be a little drama).  Pooltime, beachtime, movies, we all just kind of did our own thing.  If a kid wanted to stay in the pool, one of the adults stayed along.  I'm blessed to have such great friends and family.  These guys here, though, are the best, although I may be just a little biased.

7. I may not know how to cook, but I know how to do breakfast.  Actually, Jenn and Caleb Spencer told us about these amazing cinnamon rolls, and they didn't lie.  The Lighthouse Bakery lived up to its reputation. I also had some kind of wrap made out of crescent rolls and bacon... yum, yum.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

8. There's nothing like fireworks on the 4th of July on the beach.  Especially when Caleb Bates is yelling, "Merica" and "freedom" and Caleb Spencer is lit up with red, white, and blue glow in the dark bracelets.  The only downside was feeling like we were in the Sahara during a sandstorm... just a tad windy, but fun nevertheless!
9. Rainy days at the beach aren't that bad. Sure, they aren't as good as sunny days, but I read and watched Forest Gump and played Candy Crush.  And the view was pretty good.

10.  The sunsets were awesome.  Here's the view from last night, after a day of rain:
The week flew by.  Time always does when you are having fun, right?  Memories, though... they last a lifetime. 

Friday, July 5, 2013


Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for five minute Fridays- one word, five minutes, unedited, no pondering or dilly-dallying (don't you love that word?  If it is, in fact, a word?)

Five Minute Friday

Today's Word: Beautiful. 


This morning I sat on the balcony.  The sky is steel gray and the sea grass is blowing in the wind and thunder rumbled in the background.  The sound echoes as the waves crash, one and then another and then another, against the ledge of oceanside property, whitecaps frothy as they rush in and out. 

What a difference 24 hours can make.  Yesterday, I trudged down through the thick white sand, wading through rain water puddled and made my stake on that waterfront.  Toes dug in deep, water blue as it ran in.  The smell of sunscreen and baby oil and ocean salt wafted through the air as I settled into my lounge chair. The sun was warm on my reddened skin, warm enough to make me feel like a cat stretched out in a pool of sunlight.  I read and watched as the waves lapped over my toes.

Beautiful- but two different views.  Both God's creation.  And the thunder rumbles in the background. 

Beautiful- unique views.  Just like each of us.  Different, yet beautiful.  Beautiful in the storms.  Beautiful in the sunshine of life.  Beautiful, just as He created us. 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What I'm Reading in July

In case you haven't noticed, or don't visit this blog much, I have a confession to make.  I am addicted to books.  All kinds of books.  I have a wish list a mile long.  One of my students told me I'd never get enough time to read all of those books, and they may have been right, but that doesn't matter I'll not try.  The bad thing is, the wish list just keeps growing... and I can't read nearly as fast as I can add books to the list.  I'm always open to suggestions, too, which makes my list keep growing.  I used to be the kind that just read one book at a time, but there's too many books out there, and I have to find time when I can, so I have books everywhere and seize any opportunity I can get. 

Before I jump into what I'm reading in July, let me make three suggestions.  I read these after I made my post last month, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention them because all three are really good options.  The Sky Beneath My Feet and Reinventing Leona are both about the wives of pastors; in the first, the family is trying to figure out what God's purpose is for their family, while in the second, Leona tries to determine what God's purpose is for her.  Both are excellent reads and I would highly suggest them.  The Sugar Queen is also a book about finding purpose in life. Set in the South, the main character learns to go from loving candy to loving people.  Definitely a read worth looking into.

Now, for July. 

I'm reading Anything by Jennie Allen and it is a good if scary read.  What if we were to offer God anything?  Heavy stuff to think about.  I'm on chapter 13. Also still reading The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell.  I'm on chapter 7... got to get a couple more chapters in this month. 

I'm also reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  It's a fictionalized version of Hosea from the Bible.  Hosea marries a prostitute, who leaves him, and he keeps going back for her.  This book in the Bible depicts God's relationship with Israel, and really, His relationship with us.  I know there have been many times I've turned back and He's continued to pursue me.  Love this book.  A definite must read.

On my Kindle, I'm reading Miss Match, about a 20 something photographer who is a matchmaker at heart.  Just getting started on it.  It's a light read, though, and easy to follow, which is always good at the beach. Waiting in my bag for when I read Redeeming Love are A Summer Affair by Elin Hildebrand and A Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews, plus The Scent of Rain and Lightning, which my friend brought to me as a good beach read.  I've only got two days after today... so I'd better get to reading =)

At home, The Amethyst Heart is waiting for me.  It's also set in the south and is about an elderly lady whose son is trying to sell her house out from under her.  I'm only about 25 pages in, but it is pretty good. 

As always, comment below with any suggestions for me.  I may not read them until this time next year but I'll definitely look into them. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

June in Review

The end of June marks the halfway point of 2013, and as I look back I can't believe how fast it went.  Doesn't seem like it should be the first of July, yet here it is.  Time for getting serious about these goals, right?

Today I sat on the beach and gazed out on the water.  The breeze was blowing, and the waves were crashing against the shoreline.  Everyone else had headed up to the room, and as I sat there I thought of how much can happen in a year.  Good things, bad things, memories made, lessons learned.  Changes that I'm trying to make, some of them possible, some of them seemingly impossible, but still improvements. 

2013- My year of grace.  This past month, I've struggled a little with grace.  I struggle with grace toward Caleb and Wallace.  I struggle with grace toward myself when I keep.  messing.  up.  I struggle with grace when someone hurts my feelings or does something I don't agree with.  I'm so thankful His mercies are new every morning, and regardless of how I've done these past six months, I can start afresh today. Right now.  This is the beginning of the rest of my life... and yours, too. So breathe deep and accept it... grace... and then breathe it out again, to someone else. They may need it more than you.

So now to recap these goals... and I'm giving grace, remember =)

 Weight loss- a couple of pounds.  Not nearly as much as I'd like, and I don't see how I can reach my overall goal, but I'm thinking baby steps.  Been walking, aiming for 3 miles a day, unless it rains or there's something going on in the evenings, so I've been averaging about four days a week.  Surprisingly, that's one of my favorite parts of the beach... walking... now if I only could keep it up at home!

I'm still behind on my Bible reading... by about two months.  I have moved into 2 Samuel, and some in Psalms. I know that what I'm reading is right on time, so I'm not stressing out. Memorizing scripture-not so much.  Got behind, and didn't even look up a verse for yesterday... so I'm headed to as soon as I get this written to find my July 1 verse.  I have been reading His Word most days, and as my word of the year is grace... that's what I'm giving myself.  That's another of my favorite things about the beach, sitting out in the morning on the balcony, watching the waves hit and digging into His Word. There's something about the beach that just keeps me focused on God and all of His awesomeness. 

Slacked on the pictures and the blogging.  I get busy and forget about pictures, and then take a bunch a day.  And blogging, somedays I just don't have much to say.  I'm thankful for some linkups at some of my favorite blogs, which give me some focus.  

I'm on week 3 of Priscilla Shirer's Gideon study on Siestaville (Beth Moore's blog) and week 4 of Beth Moore's David: A Heart Like His with a group of friends on Facebook.  It amazes me how stuff goes hand in hand. I'll read something with one study, and then the same concept is covered in something else that I'm reading.  Just completed Tracie Miles's Stress Lessed Living with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies on Facebook, leading a group of amazing ladies. I'd highly recommend it.  At the end of each chapter, she provides stress busting scriptures that are awesome.  We'll be reading What Happens When Women Say Yes to God starting July 28th, and I'm looking forward to it.  I read 11 books in June, for a total of 54 out of my 80 books; 26 to go. . More on what I'm reading now later... and on what I'm looking forward to reading this summer. That's yet another thing that I'm enjoying about the book.  Today I did nothing but sit on the beach with a book in my hand or sit by the pool or on the balcony with my Kindle.  I also napped, and then read some more. 

Participating in the Joy Dare and counting 1000 gifts... counted a total of 1060 through June.  Those gifts change my perspective most days... and then there are some of those difficult days when I'm really having to pull from the bottom.... but always blessed. He is so good! It's not too late for you to join in... visit

Sleep... this summer I've gotten into a pattern of getting 8-9 hours, so it's all good. Not as much while I'm down here, but who wants to sleep their vacation away?  My goal for the summer is to have a pattern established that will work when I go back to work.  We'll see. 

So, welcome, July!  I'm going to soak up all you have to offer.  Here's to the rest of 2013- may it be as great as the beginning.