Saturday, January 31, 2015

SSMT Verse #2 1 John 4:10

Love consists in this: not that we loved God but that He loved us & sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.- 1 John 4:10

From the NIV- This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

This.  Is.  Love.

As I embarked on this year to love, that was one of the burning questions in my mind.

What is love?

We define it in so many ways.

We portray it in so many ways.

As we age, the meaning may change...

but truthfully, true love never changes, because This. Is. Love.

God created me in His image, but I was separated from Him.  He had a perfect Son, one who was free from sin.  Because He loved me before I was even formed, and longed to be with me forever, He looked at that perfect Son and asked something of Him that is unfathomable.

He sent His Son to become The Word made flesh, to be the propitiation, to be the atonement.

To be the hilasmos.

The appeasement.  Pacify.  Satisfy.

I could never satisfy the requirement, but He did.

He was the atonement for all of my wrongs.

He willingly did this... gave up His throne for rags, gave up being worshipped for being ridiculed, gave up His power to be powerless, and was beaten and scorned and mocked...

And died for me.

Love consists of this.

Herein is love.

Look no further.

It's not in your husband or wife or kids or job or sports or the SuperBowl. 

It's in the cross.

This. Is.  Love.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What I Learned in January

1. You can intercept a football with your knees. Suggs for the Baltimore Ravens heartbreakingly did this against the Steelers. It was beautiful... but so very, very heartbreaking.  I may or may not have wanted to cry as I watched this video replay.

2.  is like Trivia Crack, only you don't play other people and it gives rice to hungry people.  For every question you get right, a few grains of rice are donated... which may not seem like a big deal, but hey, small things can change the world, right?

3. And speaking of Trivia Crack, it is called crack for a reason. As in it is addictive.

4. I am a product of my parent's generation... and professional development can go by fairly quickly when the presenter is amusing.  Mark Taylor presented today on including different learning techniques for different age groups, and how to target to this generation... which is a sometimes difficult thing. The funny thing is, I'm on the cusp of Generation X and Generation Y (some researchers use 1982 as a turning point, and my 1979 birth year is pretty close.) And I can see some of both generations in my behaviors... but the way he described the other generations are pretty much spot on.  Great presentation!

6. Basketball is a team sport and everyone on the team has a role.  Everyone is important. Now, obviously, I already knew this, but I was reminded again tonight as one of our JV players (an 8th grader) got in the game and scored her first two points as a Ladycat.  Money in the bank!!! And it made me proud to see the older girls standing up and clapping for her.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Seven American Heroes

On this day, 29 years ago, there was snow on the ground...

but the sun was shining brightly outside our window.

I was sitting on the couch in my Mom and Dad's living room, probably reading a book (ok, I'm embellishing here.  I don't remember that part). 

My Mom was folding laundry, sitting on the couch next to me.

The TV was on and we were watching the first teacher to go up into space wave at the camera.

Imagine that!

A teacher, in space.  Even as a kid, I had the utmost respect for teachers, because my Mom was a teacher, and my Grandma.

We watched them walk to the shuttle.

We watched the countdown.

And then, we watched the explosion.

It's amazing that I can't remember what happened this morning, but I can still see my Mom's face clear as day in my mind.

Remembering those who lost their lives... in the words of one of my favorite teachers, they were "Seven American Heroes."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

To Get What you Love, You may have to face what you Hate

Mint chocolate chip ice cream just may be one of the best things ever created on this planet.


I can remember going to Baskin Robbins in Lexington with Lisa E. and getting two scoops.  I longed for a Baskin Robbins in Jackson.  I had to settle for Breyers, which is pretty good, but it's not green and it tastes a little different.

Despite the freezing cold temperatures today, I decided that I wanted that ice cream.

Needed it, actually...

except I didn't. 

I was tired when I got home from work and really didn't feel the treadmill in my future, but I'm doing a running plan (I know... again...) and it called for me to run 0.5 miles (I know, that's not much...) so I forced myself to get on the treadmill.

After all, 0.5 miles is a piece of cake, right?

Or it's at least worth a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream...

Two miles later, I hopped off and fixed a bowl.  It was delicious, just as I remembered.

 In my resolution to get healthier this year, I didn't say a word about dieting.  Or lifestyle eating changes... because I'm a picky eater and I KNOW I'll fail, at least during basketball season, where 99.9% of my meals are either eaten in my car, in the gym, or in my car on the way to the gym.

I did, however, resolve to move more, and I'm doing that.

So I didn't stress out about that ice cream.

I just convinced myself that because I loved that ice cream, I had to face that which I hate... the dreadmill.

I'm learning to grudgingly admit some respect for it. 

Tonight, at least...

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Favorite Verse

I was challenged by my best childhood friend to share my favorite verse on Facebook.  I've not met the challenge yet, because I'm debating about which verse I want to share.

It really depends on the situation which verse speaks to me the most.  My lifeverse is Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, sayeth the Lord, plans for a hope and a future. That's my paraphrase.  I love the part about plans, because He's got it all figured out.  I have hope and I have a future, and even if it isn't what I think it should be in this life, it will definitely be awesome in the next.

I love all of Romans 8.  When I think of no condemnation, and that I can never be separated from His love, and that He is working all things to His good... well, I just want to cry. Because I deserve condemnation. So often I am so petty and mean-spirited and impatient. I don't turn the other cheek and I don't keep my mouth shut and I don't always reflect Him... but He loves me anyway.

So many of the Psalms speak to me... when Wallace was in Texas I clung to Psalm 46 and Psalm 62. Knowing that He was God... and He was my rock... well, I needed that.

So it's hard to pick just one verse... but I will, and I'll share it on facebook.  I just know that when I need a Word, His Word is where to go.

And it's living and active and He knows what I need.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Human emotions are such a funny thing.

There are certain things that make me tear up almost every time I think of them.

A wedding, where the bride is walking up the aisle in her perfect dress with her perfect hair, and the moment the groom looks at her... and is in awe.  There's no better evidence of love this side of Heaven.

Except, perhaps, holding a newborn baby and seeing those eyes seek out their Mamas.

Or someone holding someone's hand as they take their last breath.

And Taps.

Taps gets me every time.

Today I sat in a darkened theatre sniffling and wiping away tears.  I started almost the minute the movie started, because I had read the book and I knew the story.

Sure, it was a dramatization, but war is real.  War is scary.  And real people are affected.

Real men and women sacrificing their lives...

Real spouses left at home, to wonder and imagine the worst, to take care of sick kids and pay the bills and live life, alone, with part of them missing.

There's no way you can depict that on a screen... but I'm pretty sure that American Sniper did a pretty good job.

There have been so many outspoken people talking about Chris Kyle and the movie. 

Calling him a coward.

Condemning him because of his kills.

But here's my take.

He's not a coward... he's like every man and woman who has been shipped overseas not knowing what was waiting for them.

And while he did kill, it was his job.

I know the Bible says we aren't to kill, and that vengeance is God's, and I totally get that...

but how do you explain Bible stories like David and Goliath and Samson... didn't God give them the strength to fight those battles?

Today, as I sat in that theatre and watched footage of the Twin Towers, I felt myself getting a little mad at the comments I had read...

While I know that most wars are political in nature, and I'm not into politics so I really can't contribute to that conversation, I do know this.

I will NEVER forget how I felt that morning, as I watched that plane fly into that building and saw the smoke and the terror on the faces of fellow Americans as they ran, dust covered, through the streets of NYC.  I will NEVER forget the concern on the face of my Aunt June, who was visiting from Michigan, knowing that her son in law was on a military base that could very well be a target.

We were vulnerable.  And yes, the war on Iraq and Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden may very well have been driven by politics, but that doesn't mean that the men and women like Kyle who responded to that call are any less than heroes.

So, today, as I wiped away tears, I patted Caleb on the leg and thanked God for him.  I said a prayer for my military family and friends and for the guys Wallace served with, and I thanked God... again... that the farthest Wallace ever had to go from me and Caleb was Texas.  I mourned for senseless deaths and for those who are still struggling with the emotional havoc, which may be worse than physical wounds.

And I came home and logged on facebook.  One of my online Bible study friends had shared a video of her son in law returning from deployment.  It's of her granddaughter. She spies him, and starts running, arms outstretched. She dodges other people and he leans down and her arms go around her neck.

Her Daddy is a hero... her biggest hero...

And we all need to remember that those men and women are somebody's Daddy, somebody's husband, somebody's son...somebody's Mama or sister. 

And regardless of whether we are pacifists or Christians or Democrat or Republican, they deserve our utmost respect...

because one day, the battle may be here.  And I'd be more than happy to have a Chris Kyle on my rooftop. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Apple Pies and Love

If you know me well, you know that I'm not much of a cook. 

Ok... that may or may not be the biggest understatement known to mankind.

I don't cook.

At all.

Unless you count bowls of cereal and occasionally put in the oven cinnamon rolls.

And also homemade apple hand pies.

Now, let me clarify.  I don't actually fix these hand pies myself.  It's a team effort. My Aunt Lisa makes the dough and my Mom makes the apples. 

My job is pretty simple. 

Pour out flour in a plate. Roll the dough out. Spoon in the apples.  Fold the handpie over.  Use a fork to seal the edges.

It sounds easy... but really it's not.

Because it takes patience.

I tend to flop the dough on the plate and quickly roll, quickly spoon, quickly pat to seal the edges.

Which means that my pies are usually too thin and the apples end up coming through.

Or my edges don't seal, meaning that the apples come through.

Now my sister, Holly?

She has the patience of Job.... and her handpies are nearly perfect.

I'm learning that perfect is overrated.

Because the important thing about making these handpies isn't in how they look.

Those handpies are just the conduit to get us all together.

Community.  Laughing. Sharing stories.  Staring at Braylee.  Running into each other in the kitchen and looking through old picture albums... again...

They may not be perfect, but neither are any of us.

And to be honest, I'm ok with that.  See, we all have different tastes.  My Aunt Nora likes them thin, with just enough apples to give the dough a little of flavor.  My Uncle Mike, he likes them thick, with the apples almost spilling out (but not quite... because Holly took care to seal the edges just enough).

And if you think about it, those pies represent us.  We are different.  Different interests, but the same story, interwoven. 

And those apples spilling out?

Well, tonight I'm thinking of how many fried handpies have been given and sold over the years... symbols of love.

And tonight, and this year, I'm praying... May I spill out with love just like my handpies spill out apples...

Not quite perfect, but fruitful and tasteful just the same.

And I'll tell you a secret.  I'm 35 years old and we've been making handpies as long as I can remember.  Every grandchild has made them. Today Braylee patted out the dough... not quite making a handpie, but it's a start.

And today I ate my first handpie ever. 

Yes, I said it.  I had never had one of Grandma's handpies.  I'm pretty sure that I missed out... but my Mama's tasted pretty good.

Even if the apples were kind of spilling out because I didn't seal the edges.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Share

Linking up with Five Minute Fridays, where we write for five minutes on a one word prompt, without editing... just whatever comes to mind. Today's word? SHARE. 


Share brings to mind warm, cozy feelings like me voluntarily giving Caleb the piece of cheesecake from Kelsey's.

Or a bite of my ice cream so he can see if he likes the flavor.

Or a bucket of buttery popcorn sitting between the two of us at the movie theatre.

Share a hug... a kind word... a knowing glance just between you and someone you care about.

But really,  the first thing that came to my mind this morning when I saw this prompt probably isn't too warm and fuzzy.  It may not be the most popular topic, either...

Because this morning I watched the news and heard about the measles outbreak that is continuing to grow in California.  Measles is a childhood disease that can be fatal and was previously thought to be almost eliminated, because of the success of the MMR.

Yet we have so many fears and misperceptions related to vaccines that people are refusing to allow their children to receive them. Fear of autism and fear of not knowing the results and fear of harmful side effects...

And I thought of how easy it is to share these germs in our society.

I'm thinking particularly of the flu.  We all know that the flu vaccine was a bust this year, which really kind of defeats the point I'm trying to make in this post...

I don't get a flu vaccine, because flu is a mutating virus and the vaccine generally only targets one or two strains.  I'm not working at the bedside that much and because we've pushed clinical back to the end of the semester, I'll not be "nursing" during flu season, so I'm not worried about putting patients at risk.  I'll just cross my fingers, use hand sanitizer and wash my hands...

But the MMR is a proven vaccine and it targets the right strain of measles, mumps, and rubella.

If you're a parent, research these.  Share  your concerns with your pediatrician and ask them to share information with you. 

But let's stop sharing germs, ok?

And please, for the love of man, wash your hands!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pickup Kid- Throwback Thursday

I was a teacher's kid. 

Which had disadvantages...

like when I turned sixteen I usually couldn't drive to school because there was no reason to drive two vehicles to school.

And when I got send to her room because I didn't have my English homework done.

And because she knew about senior skip day so I NEVER got away with ANYTHING. (Not that I tried...)

But there was advantages, too... and as I was driving Caleb to SMS this morning I thought about one of them.

My Mom worked at LBJ when I was in grade school, so I was a "pickup" kid even though I didn't actually get picked up.  Basically that meant that I had to stay in the classroom until the buses loaded.

Except one time, when I didn't, because Livi and I didn't think we needed to wait any longer... so we left our 2nd grade classroom.

However, we were kind enough to leave a note for our teacher, telling her that we were going to my Mom's room and that we understood if we were punished for leaving without permission.

We also liked to hang out in the parking lot.

Well, not exactly in the parking lot... but at the end of the sidewalk on the handicap ramp.

And by hanging out.. I mean hanging out.

As in upside down, hanging from the rail by our knees.  I never was good at gymnastics, but I pretended that I was.

One of the other pickup kids was always hungry... he was a growing boy.  So Livi and I saved our lunches so we could feed him.

We'd give him whatever we had left over and then hang upside down while we waited for his Mom to pick him up.

We also hung out in the bathrooms and dusted erasers on the sidewalk and traded Garbage Pail collector cards.

All while waiting for the buses to load...

Good times. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


There is so much going on in my mind tonight that I don't really know what direction I want to go in... so here's the highlights of what is going on.

1. Just another day in the life of being Caleb Bates's mom... stop at Miller's for Wednesday breakfast. Drop the kid off at SMS. Go to work and set up the lab for practice on IVs and trach care. Get a text at 9 AM asking me to get cupcakes for Mrs. Renee's birthday. Work in the lab. Run to IGA and order cupcakes. Go back to the lab. Go to IGA and pick up cupcakes and drop them off at SMS. Finish up in the lab and pick Caleb up from school. 

2. Naps in the afternoon after work with an electric blanket are the bomb.

3. As is DVR... American Idol is sooo much better without commercials!

4. American Sniper is one of the best books I've ever read.  I've heard so many good things about the movie, and I can't wait to see it.  So very thankful for our American military.

5. The nap wasn't enough... so I'm off to bed. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No Words

Sometimes there are no words...

No words for when McDonalds changes the biscuit and gravy recipe and it's game day. (Right, Landry Hayes?)

And then there are lots of words...

Words that hurt.

Words that can't be taken back.

Words that shouldn't be said.

And since this is my year to love, I'm choosing not to say those words...

So I'll leave it at that.

Even though I'd really, really like to say them.

Especially because other people don't seem to care what they say about whom and to whom.

As I said yesterday, tomorrow is another day, and His mercies are new every morning.

And He'll put a new song in my mouth...

Which is better than the words running through my head right now.

Dear Lord,
Thank You for loving me. Thank You for forgiving me. Help me love like you, even when I really don't want to.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tomorrow is another Day

Three day weekends are always the best.

Until you actually have to go back to work...

I've been lazy today, for the most part, although I did make myself walk 5 miles outside.  The sun was glorious and I even walked in short sleeves.  It was so nice that it made me dread the rest of the week, because I know winter will be visiting again and I'll be forced to hit the treadmill.

Which really isn't THAT bad during college basketball season. And I DO have about 5 episodes of Dance Moms on DVR should a ballgame not be on.

But still...

In anticipation of the coming week and a desire to finally get more organized, I went ahead and did a week at a glance calendar to stick in my planner.  I made a big list of stuff I needed to get accomplished, looked at what had to be accomplished each day, and even determined when I could exercise. 

We'll see if it is useful or not. 

I'm learning that in order for organizational tools to be useful, you have to actually glance at them every now and again... which I am notorious for NOT doing.

And then I complain because I feel like I'm forgetting something.

I'm also thinking of how the alarm clock will go off in the morning and I'll be longing to hit the snooze button 5 million times.  (Or possibly just five, which I have been known to do).

So I started thinking of bedtime and wasted time and how I can sit in front of this computer and click and click and click until it's magically midnight and instead of turning into a pumpkin my computer has turned into this machine that sucks all of my willpower right out of me, and I'm Cinderella only instead of rags I'm wearing ratty sweatpants and a tee-shirt and feeling like crap in the morning.

I'm not sure what I'm expecting to see as I sit in front of the computer...

so tonight I'm shutting her down before 9 PM. 

Which leaves me approximately 15 minutes to search social media for whatever it is I think is there...

And hopefully tomorrow I'll be in a much better mood in the morning and I'll be primed to check off everything on my to do list...

Leaving me with nothing to do but search social media the rest of the week.

Ah... tomorrow is another day. Night, y'all!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Yawn of the Goat

One thing you would have thought that I had learned by now...

You are never safe with a 12 year old with a phone.

Teenagers these days are good at snapping pictures with their victims unawares...

Like this evening.  We had such a good day. We went to a movie. Caleb and I shared popcorn and he even let me grab on to his arm during the scary thoughts (after I hissed at him, "Well, let me sit next to your dad if you don't want me grabbing you." We ate Applebees and sang songs loud on the way home.

And I was worn out by that time... so I flopped down on the couch. Caleb and I found some old pictures in a basket and we were going through them.  He was little, with a gap-toothed smile and an impish grin.

And then I yawned.  Loudly.  I may or may not have sounded like a goat. 

Caleb was giggling, and at first I thought it was just because of my loud, overly dramatic yawn... because it was pretty funny.

But no.  He had recorded the whole thing on video, and had posted it to his Snapchat story.

Thanks, bub.

And now I'm reminded to always be checking to see if the cell phone is in his hand... because you never know when he'll be recording. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Giving Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever...

Give thanks, even when it is hard...

Give thanks, even when you don't want to.

Tonight, I'm giving thanks for...

Lunch with Kami and Mom at Cheddars and onion rings piled so high they almost fall off the plate.

Half-Priced Books.

Braylee in her UK cheerleading uniform.

Dana's video of Mom, Mamaw Na, and Papaw Jr. at the beach.

2 miles of much needed treadmill time.

Breakfast time at McDonalds while Caleb was competing at academics... time in His Word.

1 John 1.


Quiet time.

My parents.

My sisters.



And bedtime. 

Night, y'all.  Before you lay your head down.. instead of counting sheep... count your blessings. I'd love to hear them!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Five Minute Fridays- SEND

Linking up with Five Minute Fridays, where we write for five minutes unedited on a one word prompt. This week's?  SEND.


I read the words and they flush hot through my mind.  I can feel righteous indignation growing and I want to... need to... have to respond...

Because how dare they? They don't know what they are talking about...

So I type, my fingers flying on the keyboard, imaginary fire shooting off the keys. 

And then I'm reminded that words hurt...

And what is sent into cyberspace can't be taken back.

So even though I long to tell my side of the story, or give them a piece of my mind, I erase, watching the cursor blink on the now white page.

It's not worth it. 

We are called to go forth into all the world and share the good news... but it is so much easier to allow our words to reflect the world around us.





When He called the disciples to go forth, sending them to all corners of the earth, to reach all languages and all people... they could have never imagine the access that we have  now. 

If I want, I can send a message right now to Australia. To China.

Looking at my blog stats, there are people in the Philippines and in Russia that read these words that I am typing.

Sending forth my message to whomever wants to read it...

It better be good.

The send button isn't like the easy button.

Sometimes not pushing that button is the hardest...

But instead of spreading forth hate and anger, may we send a message of love with every word we type.

Every email we send.

Every blog post we upload.

Every status we update.

Here I am, Lord... send me.

With a willing heart and Your Word on my lips, and in my fingertips.

Send me.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I shared a couple of weeks ago a memory that I hadn't thought about in a long time... thought it might be neat to use this as a theme day. Also, once again, I'm grasping at straws about interesting things to write about...

It's funny how a place can have such strong memories attached.  It seems like every inch of Breathitt High School brings back a memory to me.  Last week Caleb was practicing with the Ladycats and I decided to take advantage of the time to get some indoor steps in.  I walked around the building and couldn't help but think of...

Freddy Kreuger and the Boiler Room.  When I was little, I wasn't allowed to watch scary movies but somehow I knew the song from Nightmare on Elm Street.  When we would walk underneath the Coliseum to go to a game or something from the main building that song would run through my head and I would be petrified. I don't remember the older girls every scaring me, but I'm pretty sure they must have talked about it.  Even in high school it gave me the creeps to walk down there... and the other night I found myself walking a little faster, even though it was craziness! 

I walked by the ROTC shooting range and thought of getting to Breathitt in the afternoon after riding the bus from SMS.  Some Fridays the special education department and the ROTC program would go together and have impromptu dances in the shooting range. I can remember the music and walking in and trying to find Mom.

The art room and painting signs in high school... the lobby and painting signs in high school... the PE gym and painting signs in high school... we painted a lot of signs on our way to the two state championships!!!

The wheelchair ramp... as a young girl I would go down there and pretend like it was a castle... or a crime scene.  (I alternated between being a princess and a detective, thanks to my cousin Brandon.).  I would also sneak down there and read.  As I walked up that ramp, I could hear 5-6-7-8 and the sound of cheerleaders clapping their hands to their thighs as they ran through routines.

I had many "castles".  The stairwell in the PE gym.  The stairwells at the end of the Coliseum.  The box where the band's drums were placed during games.  The inside of the stage (although I didn't use that one much... because, you know... the Boiler room was under it).  The mats covering the goals... at that time, you could climb up the goals and I would climb up and slide down... over.  and over.  and over. 

My memories of the high school were formed much earlier than when I actually attended school there.  Sometimes, if I close my eyes, it's like I'm there again...

hanging out at the pole in front of the PE gym or in Mrs. Coomer's room at lunch or at my locker at breaktime.

Running when a mouse jumped out of my locker one Sunday afternoon during cheerleading practice.

Sitting in the floor doing calculus homework (or trying to, anyway...)

Hours sitting in the chorus room.

So.  Many.  Jumps.  in the hallway and running bleachers and laps around the school. 

Good times... but some bad times, too...

But it's funny how we mostly just remember the good times.

Is there a certain place that brings back memories to you? Close your eyes and think on that place...

And enjoy a little throwback.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pressing On... Day by Day

I told you in this odyssey to write every day that I'd warn  you if I ever felt uninspired, so this may be another one of those random posts that you're thinking.. and I care because?

And that's ok. I really don't have anything much to say...

Nothing significant going on in my life...

Just another day.

So I'd like to share with you my favorite things from the day.

1. I reached my goal of 11,000 steps without having to get on the treadmill.

2. I spent the evening at basketball practice working on lecture notes, which normally wouldn't be fun, but I got to sit at the scores table and break up the monotony by watching Wallace run up and down the floor as he scrimmaged.  Some things never change.  He still shoots his arm off and talks trash... even if it is to a girl.  Plus I got to hang out with some of my favorite people... and also get to know some of the younger players better. I sure do love my ball girls!

3. I laughed tonight.  It's always good to laugh. After Bible study we were standing around talking to the Price family and the Baker family, who always put a smile on my face.  They had walked out and we walked out behind them... and I suddenly realized Caleb was nowhere to be found. It's not uncommon for him to go out before we do, so I didn't think anything about it until everyone had gotten into their vehicles and there was still no Caleb.  It's also not uncommon for him to climb in someone else's vehicle, but I was pretty sure no one would have driven off with him. I said, "I've lost Caleb" and Jeannie said, "How do you lose a Caleb?" which is a very good question.  The lights were all off in the church and Dad was about to lock the door when here comes Caleb, busting out in a panic. The look on his face sent me into hysterics... laughing.  He was so afraid we had set the alarm.

And where was he? He had gone back into the gym to shoot basketball.

And then we had some laughter over how Jesus got lost at the age of 12 and they found him in the temple..

about His Father's business.

And my 12 year old was also found... about his Father's business, although it was his earthly father's =)

4. I got to watch American Idol with Wallace. There were some good auditions and some bad auditions... but it's good just to hang out every now and again without talking basketball.

5. Tonight's Bible study was about being better, pressing on toward the mark and forgetting our past.  Stepping out of our comfort zone. One thing Brother Don said that really resonated with me is, "You can't grow in grace and knowledge sitting in your comfort zone."

At the end he asked for people to come up and commit to doing something for the church.  I feel kind of in limbo, because I go to one place on Sunday mornings and another on Wednesday nights. That might seem strange to some people, but it works for us.  I treasure getting to sing hymns with my Papaw Jr. leading on Sunday morning, and am so thankful for the years that we got to sit behind Mamaw Na... but Caleb enjoys Wednesday nights with his friends and I like to sit with Dad and listen to him Amen on Wednesday nights.  At this time, I feel like it's what we're supposed to be doing... but that doesn't mean that I'm not committed to church... but truthfully, I know I can do more.  I'm just not sure what exactly it is that I'm supposed to be doing.

I consider this blog as ministry... and that may be a pipe dream.  If I could dream one thing, do one thing, it would be to write. 

I've had it in my heart for awhile. 

But that isn't tangible and it seems downright selfish... because sometimes I feel like my words don't matter...

How do you measure being committed to God and making a difference?  What does that look like? It's a concept I've been struggling with. It's one of the reasons I chose "Love" as my focus word this year... because I want to live it out, and I haven't been doing a very good job.

I really do want to do the best that I can Jesus this year.  It's such a struggle sometimes, being a light and pushing aside the flesh. It's why He told Paul that His grace is sufficient... because mine sure isn't.  And I think it's important for us to be open to what God is telling us to do, regardless of the location.

I'm so thankful for Brother Gary and Brother Kemper and my church families.  I don't think I say that enough.

So, tonight, as I'm reflecting on what went right today, I'm thinking about how I can do better tomorrow... and each day...

Pressing on. Reaching out for new opportunities... and not looking back.

And remembering that in it all, His grace is sufficient.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This is Temporary

Somedays, it seems like nothing goes right.

You have the wrong book for class.

The clinical rotations are all wrong.

It's an icy morning and your boys got a snow day but you have to go in to work.

You don't feel like walking on the treadmill but you make yourself...

And that's not even touching the ones in your life who have real problems.

Cousins facing heart surgery and friends getting chemo and sitting by the bedside of their teenage son and those facing death and loss and financial difficulties.

And it's easy to get sunk in the mire of this earth...

But it's temporary, y'all.

Tonight my friend Krystal shared this picture on facebook along with a reference to the verse in Philippians where it talks about how He is faithful to finish what He started (my paraphrase).

And I know that even in my imperfections, His perfect love is there.

For days when I struggle...

And on those really great days, too.

Because He has a plan.  Those bumps in the road today? They are just getting you ready for the best day ever...

Your eternal home, where you'll lay your crown at His feet and cry "Holy, holy".

This.  Is. Temporary.

Just breathe...

Because He's working.

And His mercies are new every morning.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Life isn't an Emergency

I worked all day and only crossed one thing off on my to do list.

One.  Measly. Thing. 

Classes start tomorrow and I find myself frantically holding my breath as I dive into another semester.  I know the Spring semester tends to go by faster. I know that next week is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and that I will have a day off. I know that I can only take one day at a time...

but still I go at it, fighting fires that only seem to burn brighter.

And I've not even picked up my stuff for my research project for my doctorate yet...

So as I drove home, rain dripping on the windshield, fog rising from the mountains, and my mind in overdrive, I thought... again.. about panic.

How it never does us any good.  The longer I sat at my desk pounding the keys working on that powerpoint, the faster time went...

And the more anxious I got. 

It doesn't matter how long I teach, I still stress out and feel underprepared.  After all, there are lives on the line...

And I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Ann Voskamp. 

"Life is not an emergency."

Even though I feel like I skid from one start to the next, sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Look out... here comes crazy... clear a path for her.

It's not an emergency. 

And as I felt that smothering situation, that sense of impending doom (one of my favorite symptoms of so many fatal diseases)... I was stopped behind a bus. 

And this little boy hopped off, with a backpack bigger than he was.

It's raining, and there he goes, zig-zagging toward his house.

Zig-zagging because he's jumping in every single puddle along the way.

He's not worried about the rain.

And I started laughing, and then I started breathing again, because you can't hold your breath and laugh at the same time.

Thank You, God, for reminding me just to enjoy the journey..

And to stop being so dramatic.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Canceling out Prayers

Freezing rain in the forecast is not my idea of the start to a great semester.

I'm a whiner, I know, but I'm a big chicken and don't care much for driving in it.

Caleb is praying for the weather because he wants to sleep in... but I'm not quite as enthusiastic.

And that makes me think of the process of prayer in the first place...

Like can we cancel out each other's prayers?

Like at a ballgame... when I'm praying for my team to win (and yes, I do think God cares about basketball.  He loves me, and cares about what I'm passionate about... so of course He cares).

But there's probably a Mama on the other team praying awfully hard, too...

And for every prayer for snow, there's an employee of the highway department praying that it doesn't.

Which reminds me that God is not a genie in a bottle.

Prayer is such a complex thing... I can't begin to understand it or explain it.

All I know is that I don't do it enough...

Pray about the big stuff. 

The stuff that matters...

apart from weather and basketball.  And even after reading Before Amen, a book by Max Lucado about prayer, I struggle.

I get busy and forget.

I get mad about situations and pout.

I resolve to do better...

but I'm human.

And so tonight, this rainy Sunday night before the start of the semester and before we head into a particularly challenging couple of weeks on our ball schedule and as I'm thinking of girls facing surgeries and families facing loss and cancer and unemployment and problems...

I'm thanking God that He's there, and He knows us and loves us.

And He's listening, even if it is just me complaining.

Because he loves me. 

And His grace is sufficient.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

SSMT Verse #1 Galatians 5:14

"For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself."- Galatians 5:14

At the end of last year, as I pondered what I wanted to focus on in 2015, I thought about my actions toward others.

The word "love" kept coming to mind... because I'm not always loving.

And this is never more apparent than the height of basketball season, at the beginning of another school semester.

As I was thinking of this word, I read a tweet from Beth Moore that listed this verse, and it hit me right in the gut.

Jesus came so that we could have life and have it more abundantly... and every action that we see Jesus takes come from love.

He even gave them  a  new commandment. 

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."- John 13:34

As I have loved you... loving through action. Through miracles.  The healing of the blind. The feeding of the 5,000.  The story of the prodigal son returning home...

all dealing with compassion, splagchnizomai, which means "to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)" Blue Letter Bible

He had pity on them, yes... but he moved out of love.

And as I thought of this "religion", and how it all hinges on Jesus, this verse clicked. 

Paul says it in 1 Corinthians... if we have not love, we have nothing.

Everything that we are supposed to do hinges on love.

Let's break it down:

For...gar... an affirmation... yes, this is so.

The entire... pas...each, every, all, any, the whole, everything... collectively.  All of it.  (Even, if you think about it, our laws today... think about crimes.  If we were loving people, murder and burglary and rape and bullying and slander wouldn't happen.)

law- nomos... any law whatsoever; Mosaic law: the Christian religion

is fulfilled... pleroo... to make full, fill up, fill to the full, render full, carry into effect, complete.

in one word... logos... speech, a word, what someone has said, a decree, mandate, doctrine, or teaching.

even in this: Love... agapao- to welcome, entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly, be full of; good will and to exhibit the same; to have preference for...

your neighbor...plesian- a neighbor, a friend, fellow man, any other man regardless of country or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet...

as yourself...  as you.  (And this is sometimes hard... you have to really love yourself and to be honest, sometimes this is something I struggle with).

Ok... now get this... before I focus on love, I have to look to Jesus.  The entire Mosaic law.. every commandment that God gave the Israelites, were a way to bring them into fellowship with Him, because He loved them.  These laws were impossible to keep.  Sin was still present... that's why they had the Day of Atonement and sacrifices.

But all of these laws were made complete (fulfilled) by one word (The Word... The Logos... The Word made flesh). 

With Jesus, we don't need anything else.

He has completed it. 

And our part of the bargain?


Agapao love.  Preferring our brother or our sister or that hateful person in line behind you at Walmart.  Being fond of and exhibiting good will to others. Love dearly.

All we need is love...

Thank you, Lord, for Your love and for Your Son.  May His love be evident in each of us.  In Jesus's name- Amen

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Welcome


I stand alone, against the wall, trying to blend in to the wallpaper.

Once again, I'm here and I don't want to be and he's off talking to someone that I don't know.  He said he'd be right back, but minutes seem to pass into hours, even though I know it isn't the case.

I rack my brain to think of one word, one line, something to make me sound interesting.

My skin is flushed but I am cold.

My head is beginning to hurt and I study my fingernails, picking at the cuticle that has somehow become misplaced.

I am an introvert, and I am uncomfortable.

Why can't life consist only of couches with fireplaces and warm blankets, of books where the characters are my best friends?

Yet I know that I must step out of my shell, because I was called to be in this world but not of it, and to be a light I have to be open, uncovered, bare.... even when it is scary.

And as I sip my Diet Coke I meet her eyes, across the room....

a mirror image, an introvert like me, and I know that I am not alone.

And I am welcome.

Not a stranger, but someone that is understood.

And then I hear him, laughing loudly and talking, as he rounds the corner, and I feel like I am home.

Just one smile. 

Just one glance.

Someone who looks you in the eye even as you try to avoid the contact...

Making you know that it's ok, that they are glad that you are here, that you are welcome.  Maybe I could be that someone, too?

Linking up with five minute Fridays, where we write for five minutes, unedited, on one prompt. This week... welcome. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday- The day when we all share pictures of our former self on social media.

Last night I went upstairs and looked through some old albums looking for a picture to share for Throwback Thursday. Mom's albums are true gems for this purpose. She has a whole collection ranging from the year she was married to the present (well, ok... maybe not an album for the next couple of years because since she retired she got so busy that she doesn't work on them as much as she used to... but I know her and know that they will get put in albums!!!)

Anyway, since it was snowing outside and cold I pulled out the winter albums and took a stroll down memory lane.  I particularly like looking at the albums when Kami was little...

And last night I remembered something that I had forgotten about.

For a few years, my Papaw did an ice garden. 

It was pretty elaborate.

He rigged up a bunch of water hose and sprinklers and strings on trees (at least I think that's what he used).  When the water froze, these created huge icicles.  They were pretty awesome.  Each year the project got more involved. He was featured in the Lexington Herald Leader and even in a book, Kentucky: A Guide to Unique Places.

As he got older and his COPD worsened, he wasn't able to get out and create his masterpieces. Time went by and I even forgot about it, until I found a picture of them. As I looked through Mom's album, I remembered once again what an awesome and interesting guy he is.

He never graduated college, but he is the smartest man I know.

His stubborn streak runs a mile... but his heart is bigger than he knows what to do with.

So glad for throwback Thursday... because it lets me remember things that I usually don't think of.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thanks for the Sympathy

I am feeling utterly uninspired tonight. 

It may be the fact that it is wintertime and it is almost zero outside, and the windchimes on my front porch are lulling me into a semi-coma that resembles something of a bear that is hibernating...

Or at least I wish.  I'm thinking that even though we aren't really supposed to hibernate, humans missed the message because all I've wanted to do all day long is eat chocolate and take a nap.

I may or may not have eaten almost an entire bag of Hershey Kisses sitting at my desk today...

which is why I patted myself, hard, on the back for going to the workout room before work and getting on the elliptical and the stationary bike. 

I'm sure I burnt off at least one of those kisses.

I tried to convince myself to walk on the treadmill when I got home tonight but then talked myself right out of it because I was able to get my 10,000 steps in pacing in the living room while American Idol was on.

Wallace was also watching American Idol as he monopolized the treadmill (trust me... he could have it!!!). The only thing is, the TV in that room is on about a five second delay so every song sounded like it had a bunch of backup singers repeating every word that was said.

All in all, though, I enjoyed it, and managed to talk myself out of getting into the chocolate stash.

I'm telling you, I really do have a problem.

And then I started thinking of the blister that is my entire heel.  I got a new pair of shoes on sale on Amazon... Asics.  They were 40% off and I congratulated myself on being a bargain shopper when I saw the same pair for almost $150 at Dick's.  I wore them last night as I finished up a mile on the treadmill and when I removed my socks I was appalled.

Wallace assures me that it is a "normal" blister and if I hear the word "hotspot" one more time I just may punch him in the face.

I never expected to get sympathy from him... which is why I'm now sitting on the couch writing this blog finishing up the last of the mint chocolate chip ice cream...

Because dairy products have a little bit of protein and protein is good for wound healing and you just lost five minutes of your life reading this post...

But I know you'll have sympathy for me.. or you'll wish you were hibernating, too.

Stay warm, folks! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What I'm Reading in January

My favorite post of the month!  As I sit here and look at the gloom outside my window, I'm wishing that I could be at home, under my blanket, reading one of these good books... but work calls... after all, I have to earn money to buy more books!  Thought I'd take a break from student learning outcomes to give you a peep at what I'm reading this month.

I'm also linking up with Book Musings Monday, a site that focuses on Christian reading.  I'm providing a disclaimer at the end of each book description if it isn't Christian reading, so you can just skip right over those if you choose.

I set a goal of reading 125 books this year.  That's just over 10 books a month.  Last year, I read well over this number, ranging from 5-17 books per month, so this goal is definitely achievable! 

Here's what I'm reading right now...

The Liberation of Alice Love- This book focuses on Alice, a young woman at the prime of her life. She isn't too excited about her job, but she's making big girl decisions like obtaining a mortgage payment, only to find out someone is using her identity and has destroyed her credit rating. It's pretty good so far... a little language, but a very relevant plotline.  Scary stuff, actually! *Not Christian fiction

Life In Spite of Me- This book is the true story of a 19 year old who decided to end her life on a set of train tracks... only to be spared.  I'm just now getting into this book, and the beginning grabbed me from the get go.  I like Kristen.  She's down to earth and up front.  I can't wait to see where it's headed, because I know God has big plans for her!

Rhett Butler's People... This is an authorized book by the Margaret Mitchell Foundation.  I've had it for awhile, but when Kami got me the authorized book about Mammy by the same author for Christmas, I knew I had to read this one first... and it's good.  It's all about Rhett before he was kicked out of West Point and before he met Scarlett. *Not Christian fiction

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn- This is another one that I've had for a while.  Written by the author of Gone Girl (which I loved) this book is difficult to read at times.  It traces the story of a young lady whose brother killed her entire family when she was seven.  As she tries to figure out exactly what happens that evening, she learns about herself.  It has some significant language issues and deals with some pretty delicate topics, so if you're easily offended I can't recommend this one with a clean conscience.  *Not Christian fiction

The Lost Wife- This is another book I've just read a little in.  It's set in modern day, but also goes back to WW2 era... and I love anything written about WW2.  *Not Christian fiction

The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis- This is one that was chosen by one of the book clubs that I subscribe to on facebook a couple of months ago, but I never got around to it.  It's about an Amish girl who has befriended a rich socialite via mail. Both are trying to figure out just who they are.  The characters are likeable and it is an easy read.

A Casual Vacancy- This book focuses on small town politics in England and it is really good.  When one of the council men die suddenly, the community scrambles and reacts. There's rival with a nearby community, teenage angst, and just enough love thrown in.  There's a little bit of language in this one, too... but so far it is a good read. *Not Christian fiction

The Moment Between- This book is one I got free a couple of years ago and just  had never read.  It is about a woman who had a love/hate relationship with her sister growing up, and what that relationship meant for her future.  Again, the characters are likeable.... but the story is a little hard to follow at times. 

Heart of the Story: The Family of Jesus- I've been taking a break on this one, as I'm completing it with a Bible study group at church, but it is really good and I'm looking forward to digging back in.

The Circle Maker- I've heard so much about this book.  I'm just a chapter in but I can tell I'm going to like it... the writer is engaging and it is about praying, which seems to have been a theme for me at the end of the year into the new year...

100 Days of Kindness- Since my word of the  year is love, I saw this free ebook and downloaded it... all about random acts of kindness that we can use to show our love.  Most of them so far are easy things that you wouldn't really think make a difference, but in our rushed society, a little can go a long way.  Smile at someone today!

I'm reading The Chronological Bible.  There's a reading plan where I will read around 3-4 chapters a day and get through the entire Bible in a year.  It always amazes me how I can read a passage over and over again, but if I'm open, God can show me something new!!!

On the To read list: I'm still searching for those Outlander books.  I've got Love Does and the book Kami bought me for Christmas.  American Sniper, which is set to release as a movie in a couple of weeks, is on my nightstand.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Locke, the Red Glove collection by Karen Kingsbury, and Leaving Time. 

Oh, who am I kidding? There's too many to count!!! Even though I don't like snow, a couple of snow days would be nice =)

I'd love to hear what you're reading.... and maybe what your best book of 2014 was?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Love Your Neighbor... Even if they are Wearing Black and White

Ok, y'all, it's the 5th of January... and I've already broken one of my resolutions.

Well, maybe I didn't completely break it... because I knew it was going to be a tough one. 

Doing everything out of love... well, sometimes that seems impossible...

Especially when you think of the verses that talk about love in the Bible.  I'll be digging into some of them in coming posts... but think about it. Love God first.  Love your neighbors as yourself.  (Let's be honest, sometimes it's hard to love ourselves, right?) Love those who hurt you...

And that may or may not be guys and girls in striped shirts. 

And also scorekeepers who turn around and give you evil looks because you yelled just a little too loudly at a ballgame...

when the player that NEVER fouls out was sent to the bench with her "5th and final foul".

and when one of the inside players came to the bench limping because the other player thought she was playing soccer, using her leg as the ball.

And maybe, just maybe, I was a little out of hand when I yelled, "She kicked her.  Of course she did. They've been hit and kicked and scratched... I'm surprised they haven't been bitten."

At least if you are going to yell, maybe you should do it when the gym isn't so quiet.

So, tonight, I really tried to talk myself down because once again I felt my heart racing, and it wasn't because the game was so close (even though it was). 

I just get so daggone sick of inconsistencies.  I'm not for cheating anyone.  I just want refs who call it both ways, who call the same calls when something happen, and who don't miss calls.

And I understand that calls get missed... because they are human.

So I'm trying to think about Galatians 5:14, which says, "For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement; Love your neighbor as yourself."

One statement... love your neighbor. 

Giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Trying to see things from their viewpoint.

God said nothing is impossible... but it sure is hard sometimes.

So, tonight, I'm reflecting on what I can do the next time I get in this situation and thinking about how his mercies are new every morning, and thanking God I'm a work in progress and He'll keep working on me...

not just in this year, 2015, My year to love...

but until I'm perfect, complete in Him.

But right now I'm going to go soak in a bathtub and try to figure out in my head what exactly they were thinking.

All in love...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dynamite Revisited

*Warning: This blog is way longer than usual, but on this day I'm pausing to remember.  There are no words to suffice, but a glimpse at her through our eyes may help.  Today I'm sharing with you the eulogy I gave at Grandma Na's funeral.  May it make you smile and get just a small picture of just how important she was.  Some of it may sound familiar, because it is pulled from a previous blog entry, but all of the grandkids/great-grandkids contributed. 

Thanks, Grandma, for all of the memories... for the foundation of love and family that you ensured we were raised on.  I can't wait for Heaven.  I know it's going to be worth it. 

"Dynamite comes in small packages has never been a more truer statement than when used to describe my Mamaw Na.  Sassy and classy, she never failed to tell you what she thought, even when you didn’t want to hear it.  However, her opinions usually came straight from love. Though not even 5 foot tall, our Mamaw made up for her stature through her larger than life personality.  I’m sure many of you have fond memories of some way which she impacted your life.  As her grandchildren, I’d like to thank that we held a special place in her heart. I think that was evident within her home. 

The day she died, Dana took Papaw Jr. to the house to pick up some clothes and stuff.  I imagine that it was hard to walk in the house, but Dana paused long enough to take a look at the fridge and snap a few pictures.  You might have seen them on facebook.  On that fridge, there are multiple pictures of her grandkids, from oldest to youngest.  She’s got notes from Glenn, Landry, Dylan, Brayton, and Caleb, all full of love… and maybe telling her how the favorite grandchild stole her apple pie. 

Look around the walls of the house and you’ll see pictures of all of us… some which we’d like to throw away, like the family portrait with my asymetrical hair.  Grandma found places for pictures of her loved ones everywhere… I think there are even a couple stuck to the mirror in the bathroom. 

Grandma’s house meant many things.  I’m pretty sure that all of us grandkids fondly remember Grandma sitting at her piano, playing hymnals.  She’d even encourage us to try our hand out at the piano, causing Pugsley to howl.  Her house was a refuge for many neighborhood kids from the time our parents were a young age.  Many a ping- pong ball was hit in her basement.  Many a basketball game played on the goal in her driveway.  I don’t know how many “cousins” I have out there who were raised in her backyard, and who felt her influence. 

Grandma’s house meant, “Don’t take your shoes off, because there’s too much dog hair on the carpet.”.  Grandma’s house meant fried bologna for her canine grandkids.  Aunt Sheila said if they were missing their dogs, she’d bet they had made their way up to grandma’s. 

Swinging back and forth on the front porch, counting the cars that went by.   Climbing the tree at the corner of the house.  One of my favorite memories is of Glenn, climbing that tree. Me and Jen couldn’t wait to go in and tell on him, because he liked to step over on the roof.  Grandma just told us there were fireants and not to worry, Five minutes later, here came Glenn, crying because he’d been ate up.  Grandma just said, “I told you girls.”  Gentry and Landry shared memories of Brayton crawling over on the roof.  It was a sad day when that tree was cut down. Homemade biscuits and gravy and pancakes in what might have seemed like a too small kitchen to some.  She always had goodies like peanut butter roll or fudge or sugar tits, which Jennifer said only her favorite grandchild got… because I don’t remember them. 

 Christmases where you just found a place to plop and hope no one stepped on you.  Christmas was always a special time at Grandma’s house.  Grandma Na loved shopping for all of the grandkids and decorating. Caleb always loved to play with  her nativity scene.  Jennifer remembered the bells that hung in her hallway.  They were electronic, would light up green and red, and played Christmas carols like Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls, and we would turn them on and drive the adults crazy.   Grandma also sprayed fake snow everywhere… on the doors, on the windows, on the nativity scene, on the Christmas tree.  Cans and cans of fake snow. 

Switches cut and threats made… more switches for us older grandkids, I think.  She used to line me, Jen, and Glenn up on the couch, and as soon as she would head into the kitchen, me and Jen would sneak out to her house leaving Glenn behind to take the blame.  I always laugh at how the younger grandkids got by with so much more.  Not saying she didn’t love us, but it was almost like she was overwhelmed in 1993.  There’s a picture of her with one of the girls on each knee in the hospital. Papaw told us that she called him a the garage and said, “Well, you’ve got another granddaughter.” A couple of hours later, she called back. “Well, it’s another granddaughter.”  He said he told her not to call back that day.  The next year, one of the walls were knocked out to make room for the three new grandbabies that had made life more interesting!

She’s leaned into grandsons taller than her… it was always a big deal to us when one grew taller than Mamaw.  We’d bend down to hug her… all of us remember those tight hugs. Allie said she’d often tell her she needed to loosen up so she could breathe.  One of my favorite pictures that I’ve seen posted in the last couple of days was from last year’s Relay.  She’s bent down, hugging Mason, who isn’t too much shorter than her. The look on  her face is priceless.. full of joy. She loved all of us, but I’m pretty sure her great-grandkids were the most special, after Landry, of course.  I’m  also willing to bet that no matter how big us grandkids got, she would still have taken  a switch or pecked our  heads if she thought  needed it.  

Picnics at Natural Bridge, and trips to Cherokee, North Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee with youth groups... lunches at Pizza Hut with the whole crew or breakfast at McDonalds. Dylan said she always got the same thing, gravy and biscuits with grape jelly, and a small coffee, which she added an ice cube or two to cool it down.  She was known for her breakfast runs to Landry, too.   While visiting the cemetery the other day , we couldn’t help but smile and think of how Grandma would be looking over the ball courts where those grandsons spent so much time, and  how it was so close to McDonalds. Grandma loved cemeteries.  She would load us all up in the van, take us to McDonalds, and then drive through the cemetery.  Sometimes we’d get out and walk to look at the graves.   Most of us have slept on her couch and drank Sprite or 7-Up when we’ve been too sick to go to school.. and sometimes when maybe we could have gone to school but just needed a little extra love.  Us girls have worn her high heels and played dress up, hiding in her closet where you could crawl between the bedrooms. Alaxandra talked about wearing her houseshoes and gowns around, and how Grandma would always let them play with her purses.  We’ve played too many games of Sorry to count, and as Al said, Grandma sure didn’t care to beat you!  Kami talked about how Grandma always had a ready supply of hairspray and bobby pins for when she needed to fix her hair before ballgames.  We were all fascinated by that hair, and us girls loved to watch her twist it up in her unique bun.   Each of her grandkids have helped eat fried apple pies, and I think we’ve all taken our turn at rolling them out, and been slightly jealous that Glenn made the best pies.  I can remember being stressed out in nursing school.  I’d call grandma up and she’d get that dough out, letting me work out my frustrations in the kitchen… about the only kitchen experience I have.  

How many prayers she's offered up. Jordan talked about how one time Grandma called him up and gave him a verse. She was good for doing that, writing them out on little slips of paper.  Jordan said she said, “I’d like to pray for you.” Jordan expected a brief prayer… but not from our Grandma.  Twenty minutes later, he hung up the phone. Her lengthy prayers are well known, which is why we would usually let someone else say grace at Thanksgiving. Al talked about staying at Grandma’s with Kami, and the bedtime prayers she would say.  Alaxandra said, “ I never remember her leaving the room.”  She’s been known to call out of the blue, like the time she called me and told me she was praying for Wallace’s self-esteem.  I think maybe she prayed a little too hard about that one! I’m sure many of you have been the recipients of her prayers. As we looked through her Bible, we found a picture of John Calipari.  I’m sure Mike Fugate was grateful for any prayers she might have sent up for Calipari and the Wildcats.  Mike Clemons probably doesn’t appreciate it, though.  There was a spelling test of Gentry’s, and a math paper of Dylan’s.  I’m convinced she had those in there because she was praying for us grandkids. There was also a note for ‘structure for Kentucky Monthly Magazine.” As many of you may know, Grandma was featured in there a few months ago for her fried apple pies.  The theme for the majority of that issue, though, was the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  Papaw Jr. told us she didn’t much care for being featured in that magazine about all that bourbon, so I guess she was praying for the readers to look past that information.  My Dad said that if there was such a thing as a Holiness Woman Magazine, Mamaw Na would have made a good cover model.  

I could go on and on, because 34 years is a long time for memories.  And I’m sure Grandma would say that would be fine, because we’ve got you in a church, which is right where you’re supposed to be.  I’ll just close with Proverbs 31:28.  “Her children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.”.  King Lamuel may have said that it was hard to find a virtuous woman, but all of the Clemons Clan were more than blessed to have been raised by one."

I'll not lie and say this past year has been easy. Grief is strange... it creeps up when you least expect it... sitting in the church practicing a Christmas play or around the family table at the holidays or just driving down the road.  One thing I am sure of, though, and that I've learned even more so in the past year.. there is hope.  Christ came so we could live more abundantly... and so we can be promised a future with Him.  Through the ups and downs of life, He is here.  I'm pretty sure Grandma is up there nodding her head right now...

Love you, Na!!! Thanks doesn't say enough.  Miss you more than words can say... and I'm looking forward to one of those hugs!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

First Random Thought Post of the Year

So these are some random thoughts that I'm having...

1. Half-Price Books is one of the best places on earth... especially when you shop the clearance section. You can't quite beat a book for $1.  However, you can't go in expecting to check things off a list, because it is often a random search.  The last two times I've went I was looking for books in the Outlander series.  I still haven't started it, because I've heard that once you start you want to just keep reading, and I only had the first one. The last time I visited Half-Price books I found the second one. Today, no luck... but I did find a nice Elin Hilderbrand book with a picture of a beach that made me miss summer more than I already was.

2. I'm not ready for wintertime yet.  It's pouring the rain outside and it sounds wonderful on my tin roof, but the forecast says the temperature is going to drop and I'm already dreading it.  Pair that with the fact that day after tomorrow is Monday... and the first day back to work/school.. and it could make for some serious whining.

3. As I'm getting ready to go to bed, I'm debating whether I like this memory foam mattress topper Wallace purchased. He's a huge fan... but I feel like I'm sinking in.  Considering the amount of tossing and turning I do throughout the night, I could burn some major calories, though, because it's a lot more effort to turn over.

4. Watching ballgames with my Mom and Kami are majorly fun.  My Mom gets just as excited as we do when there is a fumble or an interception... but our cheering was to no avail and the Steelers were sent home packing by the Ravens, who, in my humble opinion, are a bunch of thugs.  Perhaps it's the association with Suggs and Sug Knight that make me think that Suggs is a thug... because the names sound the same and it's so right of me to make assumptions about people that I don't even know...

5. It's two minutes until midnight and this has to count for today's post... so good night, y'all. Sorry this one wasn't much.  Just what's going on in my head tonight. Now let me lay down on this memory foam..

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015- The Year of Love

I consider myself a somewhat friendly person, even as an introvert.  I also consider myself a compassionate individual.

But there are times when people just flat get on my nerves. 

Even people I am supposed to truly care about... sometimes especially those people.

So this year, as I prayed about what word God wanted me to focus on this year, I kept on seeing the word love.

I thought, "Oh, God.  You've got to be kidding me.  Because I love others.  I'm friendly and nice and leave pretty good tips most of the time and I don't go off on the staff at McDonalds or Wendys or wherever when they get my order wrong, and I'm mostly patient standing in line at Walmart when there are only 2 registers open to serve what seems like every person in Breathitt and the 3 surrounding counties (the other people must have gone to Richmond or Winchester or Hazard, otherwise they'd be standing in line with me.)

And really, what does love mean?  How does He want me to define that? I mean, I love Wallace and Caleb. 

But I also love mint chocolate chip ice cream and a good book on a rainy day and feeling the sunshine on my shoulders as the wind blows through the windchimes on the front porch.  I love a good slice of Papa John's pizza and a cold Diet Coke. I love football and basketball, and occasionally I love yelling at the referees, even though I feel a little guilty after the game is over.

As I pondered this word, I thought about 2014 and all that it brought with it, how I learned that the people in your life are really the most important and that even difficult circumstances could be overcame with the right support system. 

And I thought about how I'm always praying that God shows me His Will for me... what is my purpose, anyway?  As I go about my day teaching and cheering at ballgames and surfing facebook... what in this world am I supposed to be doing?

And then I thought about how I'm supposed to be a light in this dark world... this world full of hate and evil, the antithesis of love.

Love is an action.  It is not a feeling, or an emotion. 

And love is what God desires.  It's our purpose.  It's how we can serve as lights... because they will know us by our love.

And as I thought about this, I realized that every action that I do for someone else is a matter of love.

If I do it reluctantly, I take away some of the gift... but if I'm truly doing things for others, instead of focusing on me, every single time that I say thank you or hold open a door or let someone out in traffic or get up at 3 AM because Wallace wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an act of love.

According to Bible, there are over 400 entries in the KJV translation of the Bible with the word love.  It first appears in the book of Genesis and is found in the last book, Revelation. It appears in 49 books of the Bible.

And it is the greatest commandment. "Faith, hope, and charity... but the greatest of these is charity."

So, in 2015, I'll be diving in God's Word and looking at love.  What does Jesus say about love? I'll be memorizing scripture for Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory team revolving around love.

And I'll be putting it into action.  Random acts of kindness toward others... but also intentional acts of kindness.... like biting my tongue and seeking out opportunities to help others. To love in not just word but in deed.

It's going to be a challenging year, because loving others means putting them first, and I'm not great at that...

But I'm up for the challenge. 

Do you have a word you're focusing on? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I Resolve to... Or Maybe Not.

I love New Year's Day. 

There's something about waking up to a new start...

even though technically there is nothing different from the night before...

It just feels different.  New opportunities. 

I am the queen of chronic failed resolutions.  I tend to say every year I'm going to do this and do that and it fizzles out.  Sometimes I last a few weeks, sometimes a few months... and sometimes I don't even make the first step.

Maybe you can relate?

This post I'm focusing on my goals for 2015.  I truly believe that it can be the best year you and I have ever had... because we have the choice to make it that way.  I started to put we are in charge of our own destiny, and while that is true, I've learned that when we turn our destiny over to God and let Him work it out, it is much better... but that's still a choice we have to make. 

If you've not done that, let me encourage you to put that first on your list of resolutions or goals.

With that being said, as we make up this list of goals to guide us in the coming year, may we all remember that we are imperfect.  We will stumble and fall... but the most important thing is to get back up.  Look at the positives, learn from the negatives, and just keep smiling...

And keep a little mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer for days when there doesn't seem much to smile about.

Remember that we'll all have those days. Days when we feel like a failure. Days when we can't hold our head up. Days when we just want to bury our heads under the electric blanket and sleep until January 1, 2016. 

One foot in front of the other... one step at a time... one day at a time... remembering that the only time we really have is right here, right now.

Even the best laid plans sometimes turn out to be not so great...

So as you make your goals and resolutions, resolve to be open to adapting to whatever God has in store for you. I can guarantee that it can far exceed anything you or I could imagine!

So... without further ado... Here are my goals for 2015.  I'll try to write a super exciting post about them once a month to try to keep myself accountable. 

1. Above all, focus on LOVE in everything that I do.  There you go... that's my one word.  LOVE. Loving God. Loving myself.  Loving others. More about that later.
2. Writing on this blog every day this year.  That's right.  365 posts, whether I have anything to write about or not.  I'll try to provide a disclaimer at the beginning on days when I'm just not feeling it... but it's about discipline and we all know how I am about discipline.
3. Exercise.  Consistently.  Even if I hate it.  10,000 steps at least 6 days a week. Using the fitness room at work more often. And perhaps this will be the year I finally convince myself to work up to running a 5K?
4. Read my Bible all the way through. I'll be reading my Chronological Bible. I did this in 2012 and it was awesome.  I allowed myself to get distracted the past two years, and while I've been in the Word, it's not been as consistent as I'd like it. In addition to that, I want to complete 4 in-depth Bible studies.  I've already got them picked out and ready to go.  Kelly Minter's What Love Is (How fitting for my word!), Priscilla Shirer's Breathe (about Sabbath Rest), Lisa Harper's Hebrew, and Melissa Spoelstra's Jeremiah.
5. Cross something off my bucket list.
6. Count 1,000 gifts... or more.  Try to keep a blessing jar. 
7. Love in action to other people- you know the drill. Random acts of kindness.
8. Read at least 125 books. That's one book almost every three days.  This just might be my favorite challenge! (Last year I read 161 books.  What!?!?)
9. Memorize 24 verses this year through Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

I always want to say I want to be a better person... but how is that defined? That's one reason why I chose the word LOVE to be my guiding word.... because if I am loving in action, through deeds, it will make me a better person... better wife, Mama, daughter, teacher, friend.

I'd love to hear about your goals... or lack of.  And remember, live with grace. Grace for yourself and for others.

We're all struggling!
Happy New Year, friends!!! May 2015 be our best.  year.  ever.