Friday, May 30, 2014

What I Learned in May

(Ok, I learned this in April, but better late than never.)...
1. My favorite ride at Disney World is It's a Small World.  As a child, I was fascinated by the catchy song, and the people from all over the world.  As I got older, I realized that the world really is a small place, and that we are more alike than we are different. As an adult, I still love that ride.

But I never knew that it was actually created for a World's Fair... so now you know.  Created by Walt Disney himself in support of Unicef, the ride was featured in the 1964 World's Fair, and then became a permanent attraction in 1966 at Walt Disney Land in California. I've never been on that ride, but I have rode the attraction at Walt Disney World, which is one of my favorite places on Earth.  You can read more at
http://www.laughingplace.com/w/news/2014/04/10/disney-parks-celebrate-50th-anniversary-of-its-a-small-world/

2. And speaking of that... this was an unsanctioned World's Fair.  According to WorldsFair.com, there is an actual bureau that sanctions World Fairs, or Expos.  There are registered and recognized World Expos... the next registered one will occur in 2015 in Milano, Italy... just in case you want to go.

3. The true meaning of dissimulation is fake or hypocritical... which strikes me as funny, because a simulation is fake and "dis" has a negative connotation.  I guess perhaps I also had that word and disseminate mixed up in my head.

4. May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.  You know you want to go out and get a chocolate chip cookie, even though we are fifteen days late.  My favorite are fresh from the oven, slightly crispy.  Yum, yum!

5. As a little girl, I loved my Cabbage Patch Kids.  I was not one of the fortunate kids whose Mom almost committed murder when they first went on sale, but I did get one shortly thereafter.  Also, at that time you could buy the dolls head and a pattern for the body, so my Mom made me a couple of homemade Cabbage Patch dolls.  I knew all about the stork and how they grew in the cabbage patch... but I did not know that Babyland General Hospital is a real place in Cleveland Georgia...  You can visit it and see dolls made... and the nurses there are LPNs (Licensed Patch Nurses instead of licensed practical nurses).  Check their website out: http://www.babylandgeneral.com/visit/ I had a play set of the Babyland General Hospital.  Amazing what you can learn from Pawn Stars!

6. The blind leading the blind is from the Bible... and if the blind leads the blind, they will fall in a ditch.  Matthew 15:14, ""Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." Red letter in your Bible, people...

And I knew this, because I am near blind, and you don't want me leading you many places.  I mean, I knew the blind leading the blind could get you in trouble, but I never actually realized it was Biblical.

Linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for what we learned in May.  This is one of my favorite posts to do!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Working on a Building- Ephesians 2:22



The other night, we had a bad thunderstorm.  Lightning flashed and lit up my bedroom.  Thunder boomed so hard that the house shook.  (Ok... there was actually an earthquake in a neighboring state, so I am wondering if maybe I was feeling that...but the point was the house shook).  While I love rain at night and love to sometimes watch storms if I am good and awake, I do not enjoy them while trying to sleep. That particular night, I was more than a little afraid.

The next morning, I was telling Caleb, who had somehow miraculously slept through it all, about the house shaking.  "Sounds to me like we have an unstable foundation."

This week, our memory verse for the Proverbs 31 OBS Bible study Limitless Life was Ephesians 2:22.  "In whom ye also are builded together for an habituation of God through the Spirit." As I thought about this verse, and read the verses before it, I thought about being a dwelling place for God.

Me. 

Full of cracks and unshakiness.

Not the most beautiful dwelling place by far.

But this verse tells us that we are builded together.  The chief cornerstone is Jesus Christ.  The chief cornerstone of a building is the basic element of the foundation.  It is usually the stone that may be laid first, and signifies upmost importance.  In older buildings, it often has the date or some other identifying characteristic noted on it.

Jesus is my chief cornerstone.  He is my basic foundation.  He started this whole process of making me a dwelling place by dying so that I didn't have to.. dying so that I could be in communion with the Father.  I should try to be more like Him, and make Him my identifying characteristics.

And then there are the apostles and prophets.  They also laid the foundation.  They took what Jesus started and spread the Gospel, the Good New, just as the Great Commission told them to, so that I could know His Word, all these years and all those miles removed.

I am not a stranger or a foreigner.  No, m'am.  I'm right at home, as a fellow citizen. A fellow citizen of Heaven, where I will receive my true inheritance. There is something about knowing you belong...

We are growing into a Holy Temple.  Yes, I'm His dwelling place.  His Spirit is within me... but I'm not finished yet.  Thank God, He hasn't given up and He is still working on me.

And again, we are in this together... building on this foundation... in community with one another.  Me.  You. OBS.  My local church.  My family.  Fellow believers. Friends. 

We're working on a building.  It's a true foundation.  We're working on a building... working for our Lord. 

And if that doesn't make you want to sing, I don't know what will.

Join me today on the P31 OBS blog hop. We're mapping, snapping, writing, and sharing what He's shown us this past week. I know it's going to be good.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Monday, May 26, 2014

Freedom is Never Free

I've been looking at everyone's posts on facebook today.  Some are at the lake. Some are at the pool. Others, like Caleb, are completing end of the year testing in school because of the harsh winter we had.  Me, I'm hanging out, reading my Kindle while I do laundry in between games of Candy Crush  (Yes, it is a skill.  Yes, it makes it take longer... but it is so much more enjoyable!)

The sun is shining and I can tell that it is a beautiful day, and I'm sure Caleb will hit the pool as soon as he gets home from school, so I'm anxiously fighting off the urge to give in and go on down to the lounge chair.

Somewhere, there is a Mama missing her son or daughter.

Somewhere, there is a wife placing a flag on a gravesite, remembering laughter and good times.

Somewhere, there is a daughter who loves her Daddy just like I love mine, but she's not able to tell him that.

We tend to lose focus on freedom.  I'll be the first to admit that I take it for granted. I stopped watching the news several years ago, so I know that I don't ponder all the tragedy in this world. 

But somewhere, there is a woman, just like me.  She's probably off from work today because of the holiday, and she wouldn't be grumbling about folding up endless piles of laundry.  She'd love to be able to wipe the jelly out of the floor one more time, or to step on a stray lego in the living room floor. 

Instead, she grabs her car keys to talk to her husband, son, daughter, Daddy...

and places a flag at the foot of a grave.

This weekend, I visited four different cemeteries.  I laughed at my Grandma Na's grave as Kami demonstrated that she could, in fact, use a shovel.  I smiled as I watched Papaw Jr. point out his Mom and Dad's plot, and didn't know how to respond when Caleb asked if his great-great-great-great grandpa was for slavery since he fought in the Confederacy.  I listened as my Grandma Bert dictated where flowers were to be placed on her Mom and Dad's stone, and almost cried when she reminded my Aunt Lisa to put flowers next to a missionary's grave.  I watched Wallace point out to Caleb his Grandpa Richard's grave... for the most part, individuals that I never got to meet.

And then we rode the Ranger through the river, and I went for a walk, and my skin, red and warm from the sun, reminded me of the joy of the last two days.

But somewhere... there isn't much joy. 

Freedom is not free.  Across the sea, there is a man or woman willing to lay down their life so that I can sit here in my pajamas at 1 PM, looking at the piles of laundry and wishing that I could just be on a float in the pool.

Somehow, that just doesn't add up in my mind, but the truth is that people have been laying down their lives for years. 

An American GI or Marine, so that I can buy a book or a Bible or vote...

and Jesus Christ, so that my freedom could be eternal.

Help me, Lord, not take either for granted. Thank you can never be enough.

Today, remembering that freedom is not free, and praying for our troops, their families, and all of those who have lost loved ones... especially those who are grieving years later.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Community

As an introvert, to be honest, sometimes the word community makes me shudder.

Growing up in a small town, community often meant that everyone knew who your Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and second cousin once removed was, and that meant that you were easily identified.  It also meant that everyone knew your business... even sometimes business that you didn't know about, if you get what I mean.

That, my friend, is not community.  As I've been a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible studies, I have seen community in action.  I've never met these ladies... but I love them. I pray for them.  For some of them, I know their struggles, and have provided support through encouraging words.  For others, I read their words on a website and laugh in agreement... because they must have read my mind. It's uncanny how God can bring together so many vastly different people, and make it work.

That's how it should be in real-life community, too.  We should love, encourage, and support each other.  I was witness to this community when my Grandma passed away in January. Grandma was a true prayer warrior, and the testament she left was evident in the days following her death.  So many facebook posts about her... and she had no clue what facebook was.  The night of visitation, people just kept coming in... and they had personal stories to share.  The funeral was packed out.  We had food delivered and money donated to her church... but most of all, we had love.  Prayers.  People willing to support us and mourn with us.  People who laughed as we shared our stories of her.  People who continue, five months later, to share their condolences. 

Community is about support. Love. Edification.  I don't know about y'all, but I sure need a safe place where I can be accepted.

And I love when I can tie things together.  Yesterday, I was reading in Max Lucado's Applause of Heaven.  He was talking about peace, and he said, "To make peace, in Scripture, is to bring community."  My friend Heather King echoed this in her book, which I read shortly after the line in Applause of Heaven (Here is my disclaimer... I'm a book nerd, and often read several books at once, which is another reason why this P31 OBS community rocks. They totally get me.).  "Paul wrote, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18).  Peaceful relationships in this world aren't always possible and that's the ugly truth.  But we need to do everything we can to cultivate peace, even in disputed territories where landmines of personal opinion dot the fields."

Community can be messy, because it is full of human beings, forgiven and given grace but still sometimes not acting like it. As a member of a community, we are only responsible for our own actions.  Loving.  Supporting. Encouraging.  Not judging. 

Won't you join me in this online community? It's not too late to sign up.  We'll be starting Limitless Life on May 25th.  Check it out! P31 OBS Blog Hop

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thinking on Graduation... Advice to a Younger Me

With graduation over here at the college and fast approaching for the local high schools, I can't help but reflect back on my life at those two points.  I truly have no regrets, because I've got a good life, but I do think that a different perspective would have been nice.  I'll never speak at a graduation ceremony, because I tend to say y'all a little too much and even though I am a professor, I am far from an academic. (I determined this when one of my DNP professors was talking about how much they liked to watch CSPAN and read journal articles, and I thought, "Give me Dance Moms or give me death. Or at least a little sappy Nicholas Sparks to read.  Or Janet Evanovich... where you know that she's going to buy donuts and Granny's going to tip over a casket and someone's car is going to get blown up... but I digress).

Anyway, as I thought about graduation time, here is what I'd like to say to my younger self (or to someone who may have similar thought processes to me...) And I've also included some of the top commencement speeches of all times, as rated by Time magazine, because I'm just not that inspirational.


1. Let it Go.  Seriously.  And this ain't the song from Frozen.  All that drama.  Just breathe it out... because it really doesn't mean anything anyway. I look back over my high school years and am seriously appalled at the way that I acted sometimes.  I feel like I should just say a blanket apology to anyone who knew me back then.  And I have apologized many times to my mother. 

See, that wasn't really me.  Or at least I'd like to think it wasn't me.  That bratty snob didn't really think she was better than everyone... it was just a cover for my introverted, lack of social skills ways. Or at least that is now how I delude myself into rationalizing my behavior.  You'll still see a bit of that reservation, but what I've learned is that most of the time, if I'm uncomfortable in a new situation, everyone else is, too.

2. Be everyone's friend.  Now this doesn't mean that you always have to hold hands and sing Kumbaya together around the campfire, or share each other's clothes and giggle until all hours of the night.  However, the reasons teenagers don't like each other are just silly... but not to them (so please don't be offended if you're a teenager girl reading this.  I love my girls and am just trying to save you some angst).  You'll never know how much a simple smile, a wave, a hello in the hallway may mean to someone.  Lord knows I wish I had smiled more.

3. Loved this one from a Steve Jobs speech at Stanford, "Time is Limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."  You are unique.  You are awesome.. unless you are the bratty snob that I described in #1.  We only have so much time on this earth.  I have really been thinking about this one the last few months.  Don't waste your time on what is unimportant.  Think for yourself.  You're almost adults... so even though you don't want to disappoint Mom and Dad, don't live out their life if it isn't what you want for yourself.  I see this a lot of times in students who enter a program because it was expected of them... and they are either unsuccessful, miserable while they are completing, or miserable in the workforce.  Life is too short to be miserable.  Choose to pursue your own dreams.  Life may not be a bed of roses, but it won't stink like manure, either.

4. And from Bradley Whitford, to Wisconsin: "At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble." You will stumble.  You will fail.  You will barely pass a class, or, God forbid, get an E assigned.  Just don't get the incomplete... unless you really plan on finishing.  Don't quit. Don't give up.  Keep your eyes on the biggest prize... and for goodness sake, don't be paralyzed by fear of failure. Too many times I let the words, "I'm not good enough" or "You'll never be able to do that" keep me from taking action.

As JK Rowling said, "Failure is not fun. It can be awful. But living so cautiously that you never fail is worse."

5. Exercise.  Please.  As you go to college, that freshman 15 is not a myth.  Then, you get into harder classes, and your study routine involves eating chips as you flip over notecards.  Force yourself to get off your butt and move.  This 34 year old woman will be the first to tell you that once you have a baby, you'll be wishing you were in the habit of moving...

6. Learn to laugh at yourself.  Never take yourself too serious.  And learn to laugh in general... every day.  Laughter really does improve your health.

7. Accept that you will never be finished learning until the day you die.  There will always be something new to learn.  Our world changes so quickly, and we must all be prepared to adapt.  Seek out learning experiences.  Meet new people.  Try new things.  And, again, don't be afraid to fail.

8. Cherish each moment... because you'll never get them again.  Don't spend so much time worrying about yesterday or tomorrow that you don't enjoy the sunshine on your face today.

And I don't know that Mother Teresa ever spoke with graduates, but if you live life by this quote, it'll all work out in the end. "People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.  If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.  If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.  What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.  if you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.  The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.  Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.  In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway. "

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Today is Thursday, and I am not functioning well.  Namely because I had to get up at 6 AM and drive over 5 hours across the state to meet with nursing faculty at Madisonville Community College.  Well, technically, I rode over 5 hours, and I probably don't have much to complain about, because others in my party drove farther and had to get up earlier... but I am still not functioning well.

I only have tomorrow (another all day meeting) and next Wednesday of work left and it is summer vacation.  Plus a trip to Bowling Green for class on Tuesday.  I'm in need of summer vacation.  I can hear the pool calling my name, and also the piles of laundry stacked in my hallway. 

And I'm beginning to think that I have mush for brain, because I'm really not thinking straight.  I break out in random song every now and then based on conversations.  You say a word, I'll sing the first song that comes to mind.  No, I'm not crazy... just a little unwell.  See what I just did?  And I didn't even mean to do it.

So, here's a few of my thoughts on this Thursday that I have thought was Friday most of the day.

Today at Cracker Barrel I had blueberry pancakes and they were good. There is nothing better than blueberry pancakes, dripping in syrup.  Which makes me think of one of my favorite books from when I was little, Blueberries for Sal.  I'd highly recommend it for kids who like picture books.

Before I enjoyed my pancakes, though, I looked around the d├ęcor of the Cracker Barrel.  At my eye level was a lovely old picture of three young children, sepia color, in a round frame.  This made me think of all of the old pictures I've seen in restaurants.  Who are they? What would their pictures tell if they had words?

And for that matter, what would my pictures tell to future generations?  Will they look at pictures that Caleb takes, all those selfies, and wonder what was going on in his mind? And maybe I don't take enough pictures.  I had every intention of taking a picture a day this year, but many of my new years' resolutions got thrown out the window because this semester was just crazy from the get go...

But tomorrow is a new day.  And I finally feel like I've woken up from a deep sleep, and am ready to conquer the world...

or at least my mounds of laundry.  Wallace Bates will say  Amen and Hallelujah. 

Tonight, though, I'm going to read another book on my Kindle and try to find some mini chocolate chip cookies. After all, it is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. 

Thanks for reading.  Maybe tomorrow I'll write something with more substance.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day post... Kind of, sort of.

The sky was a bright blue, with a few fluffy white clouds interspersed throughout.  The sun was warm but the breeze was just right.  A tree offered a little bit of shade.

And there we were, gathered together just as we had been a little over four months ago... only this time wasn't as cold or quite as sad.

The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that "to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." (And in my head I am singing, Turn, Turn, Turn...)

A time to laugh. A time to mourn. 

My cousin Gentry became the latest Clemons Clan college graduate, and we had gathered at Kiwanis Park to celebrate his accomplishments.  There were a few of us missing, but we laughed over Lauren Colwell's chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and barbecue pork.  Cornhole was played, memories of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle concert were shared, and my Dad may or may not have fallen asleep sitting up on the picnic table bench.

We've had some good memories at that park.  Family reunions, baseball and softball games, merry go rounds.

And Mother's Day is as good as any to remember.

So, as Gentry's party wound down, we passed around the notepad and jotted down our thoughts.  I don't know what my cousins wrote, or my aunts, or my Mom, or even Caleb.  I know that for me, who has always found it easier to express my thoughts with the written word, it was a struggle.  How do you sum up all that you've felt in four months on a tiny piece of notebook paper?

We blew up balloons with the help of Chelsea's Lily, who relished putting each balloon on the helium machine.  Our newest member won't make her debut until June, but I can't help but feel that Grandma has already kissed her sweet cheeks.

Balloons in hand, we trekked from the park to the cemetery.  Funny how many times we've walked that walk with Grandma.  She's probably a little miffed that Dad gave Papaw Jr. a ride... she sure wouldn't have given him a pass.

And as we stood around that grave, I looked up at that blue sky and the sun hit my face.  I looked at some of the people that I love the most in the whole wide world, and thought how family can be a good thing or a bad thing, and just how blessed I am that it is good in my case.  We may have our differences.  We may disagree on some things, but they are my people, and we have been quilted together with a thread that can't be broken...

Bound together by the love of a lady that transcends the grave.

We laughed as someone pointed out the tree, and there may or may not have been a few I told you so's when a couple of the balloons got stuck.

And I watched the balloons float up to the sky. There may have been a few tears, but I think that's ok. 

Because even in our sadness, there is hope... and the realization that this is all just a season.

Tonight, I'm thanking God for my Mama, who has been so many things to me.  My biggest supporter, my listening ear, the best hug giver in the world.  And I'm thanking God for my mother-in-law, who loves me like her own.  I'm thanking God for all of my aunts and my Grandma Bert, and that little tiny lady who would just as soon as peck your head as to look at you.

I may not be the greatest Mom in the world, but I've had some of the best examples. And that is just what being a Mom is about, being an example.

Thank you, God, for Moms and Grandmas.  And thank you for hope. 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

May Reading


Today was graduation. Even though I have 8 more days of work (but who's counting?), graduation always marks the beginning of summer, because my days aren't quite as strenuous.  So, here's my summer reading.... and as always, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

I just finished The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, and I loved it.  Would highly recommend it.

For P31 OBS, I'm finishing up Living So That.  We'll be starting Limitless Life May 25th, and it looks really good. 

I'm still working through The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado and A Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas.  Both are about The Beatitudes.  I started them together, got hung up because I didn't take time to finish the reflection questions, but I hope to finish them this month.

I just started Safe at Home by Richard Doster, and am loving it.  It's a baseball novel, but really more about the Civil Rights movement in the South.  I put it in my car to keep for my drive-thru read (because every minute counts and you never know when you'll be stuck in line!) but brought it in the house because I wanted to find out what happened. 

I'm also reading As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. One of my goals this summer is to read several classic books, so I've got To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and a couple of others lined up.  Maybe I'll tackle War and Peace!  And, there's my old standby, Gone With the Wind.  It's my favorite.

On my Kindle, I'm reading Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front.  It's an actual diary from a nurse working during WW1. I'm also reading Queen of New Beginnings and Safe Harbor.  Both are fiction reads, kind of light, nothing you really have to think about. 

There's lots on my to read list.  I'm looking forward to reading all summer long.  Let me know what you're reading!

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Plea Today

So, Breathitt Co. has been on the news almost every day this week.  Seems like we are always getting a bad rap. Regardless of how you feel about it, Eastern Kentucky and Breathitt County do have plenty of problems to choose from... and we can all get mad if we want to when these problems are brought to light.  There's always the complaint that national media (and even media from other parts of the state) always focus on the bad... but isn't that kind of how we all are?  Don't we always look at the bad in the situation?

Social media has only heightened this problem.  Opinions are shared without all of the facts (case in point... this blog, if you are reading it).  Before you know it, news has spread like wildfire and it is often the incomplete story.  We share news stories and negativity because we love sensationalism.  I'm just as guilty as the next person.

However, what good does it do?  Don't we want the best for future generations?  The past year celebrated the anniversary of the War on Poverty, and frankly, Eastern Kentucky really isn't any better off than we were.  Unemployment rates are high.  Our substance abuse statistics are some of the highest in the nation.  In county health rankings, we are some of the unhealthiest people in our state, and we are plagued with discontent and entitlement. I could go on and on about the negativity, about the reasons why Breathitt Co. is such a bad place to live, but that is my point.

I choose to live here.  I love it here.  And I think it is time that we stop fighting each other, stop pointing fingers, stop sharing the negativity.  It may mean embracing change.  It may mean that what has worked in the past isn't working now.  We're living in a new time.  People are different.  Society is different. Expectations are different. 

And maybe it is time to focus on the good.  There are several reasons why I love Breathitt Co. I love going to get my nails done and having someone ask me how my family is... and know that they really care.  Not only do they know their names, they know personal details about them.  I love knowing that if I run out of money at a gas station, there is probably someone who will be kind enough to pick up the extra, because they know me.  I love how if I were to break down on my way home, more than likely, I could go to a person's house and ask for assistance and they'd still offer me help.  I love knowing that when I sit in a gym, and Caleb is sitting with someone else, he'll be treated like their own kid.

So what I'd like to propose is this.  Could we please stop the bashing?  The hatred?  Can we just admit that while we all have different opinions, for the most part, we want the best for our kids?  And sometimes the best for our kids means admitting there are consequences for actions made.  What kind of example are we setting when every time we open our mouth, we're complaining?  Is it possible to maybe give change a chance, recognizing that obviously, something hasn't been working?

No, this isn't a political ad, because frankly, I'm sick of the politics in our community.  And no, this isn't pointed at one person, because I think we are all guilty. 

I just think that looking to the future means moving forward, and sometimes that is painful.

But staying stagnant is even more so.