Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reflections on Purpose- January

Just want to keep myself accountable. I did a really good job the first 20 days or so reflecting daily, and then life got busy... but here's my monthly reflection.
My 16 for 2016:
1. Live with Purpose- intentionally. I've tried to do this. I've used my planner to help me figure out what I need to do every day, and to help me think about ways to be more purposeful. Still a lot of idle time on the computer =) I've also thought a lot about purpose. Lifeway Ministries chose "purpose" for their word to pray about for January, and gave the verse from Colossians about working toward the Lord. I also found that a lot of the verses I read daily made me think about purpose. I've been convicted that so often I make it about me- what I can do, what I need to do... but it's really about giving Him glory. That's my purpose. Bringing Him glory through my works and actions... and love.

2. Exercise- Goal: At least five days a week, 30 minutes a day, and at least 10,000 steps 26/30 days or 27/31 days of each month (24/28 days in February). (Because nobody is perfect).

For this month: Had over 10,000 steps 26 days this month- one day short of my goal. I'll know my average steps tomorrow. Exercised 27 out of 31 days, so more than five days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.

3. 1,000 Gifts- Gratitude Journal
My goal was to write down three things a day. I haven't always written something down every day, but I've written down over 100 things so far. Things simple, like diet Coke and reading, and my family, and sunshine.

4. Scripture-
I've written out a Scripture almost every day thus far. The two days I missed, I doubled up the next day. It's an easy practice and it makes me think about whatever topic the Scripture plan is focusing on. February's will focus on love.

5. 365 Day Challenges- One picture a day and writing at least 10 minutes each day. One of my facebook friends developed a challenge and we even have our own hashtag- #write365.
Goal: I've done it!!! 31 days of snapping a picture and writing a blog a day. Yay, me!!!

6. Reading Challenge-
I'm reading a lot of books this month, but I've only finished 7. I am reading several that will fit into the reading challenge. I'm also caught up on Armor of God and Open Your Bible. I'm reading Jeremiah along with a commentary so it is a little slower.

7. I'm a couple of days behind in my Chronological Bible reading, but I'm not giving up. Right now I'm in Exodus, and it is a little hard to read, I'll admit. But when I think of the miracles it depicts... amazing!

8. Look up one word a day from an online dictionary site. Because everybody needs to know a random word. I get an email a day. I've not written the word down, but I have read the definitions.

9. Random/Unrandom Acts of Kindness- I've done pretty good. Not every day, but most. Small things like a kind word. A note to a waitress. Pushing a shopping cart to the rack when I pull in and it is parked next to me.

10. Presence- spend time with those I love, intentionally. Caleb. Wallace. My grandparents. My sisters. My in-laws. My niece and nephew. Again, doing pretty good here. I've got to spend some time with Grandma Bert and it's been fun. And lots of time with Caleb, Will, and Melody. Making plans to watch Kami at some KD functions.

11. Cross something off of my bucket list. Nothing yet. But I do start my research project this semester.

12. Be more organized. Procrastinate less. Fold the laundry as I get it out of the dryer and actually put it away =)
(I have a looonng way to go on this one... but that's why we have all year, right?)
Ummm... It's basketball season. We'll work on this one next month.

13. Laugh. Everyday.  Hard.
Because laughter is truly good for the soul.
Yes!!! And I have laughed. Laughed with Caleb. Laughed with my sisters. Laughed with my students. Laughed with the ball team. Laughed with Wallace. And sometimes laughed at myself!

14. Keep a Sabbath day of rest.
Sundays are for napping and football and reading and God's Word. I need to create this margin in my life. If I'm going to make myself be more disciplined in other areas, I need this time to allow my soul to breathe.
I've done a good job with this one. Spent my Sundays on church, and reading, and Bible reading, and exercising, and watching TV with Wallace.

15. Make new friends. Make time for old ones.
Nothing yet. 

16. Continue to love. Love Jesus. Love myself. Love others.
Living out my values: Be Yourself. Laugh Often. Live well. Love long. Just breathe. Work it out. Finish Strong. Hope always. Give grace. Positive Thinking. Jeremiah 29:11. Romans 8
Trying my best. And that's all that counts.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What I Learned in January

1. Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, I've heard Iota- jot or tittle in the Bible; smallest Greek alphabet letter the phrase "iota" all my life.  As in, "She don't have one iota what is going on." I knew iota meant small... but I didn't realize it was in the Bible. "Iota" was the smallest Greek alphabet letter.  The place most people may recognize it from, if you read the Bible, is when we are told that not one jot or tittle in the Bible will pass from the law. 

2. I've also heard the phrase "the whole nine yards" all my life. I always associated it with football, even though that didn't make sense to me, because a first down in football is ten yards. Apparently, no one really knows what it means. The  New York Times links it to a newspaper column discussing a baseball game, entitled The Whole Six Yards, which really makes no sense, because baseball doesn't even use yards. It has also appeared in Kentucky news stories and is thought to have a "backwoods" meaning. So really, I didn't learn anything as I searched for the meaning of this phrase, other than the fact that some things are just a mystery.

3. Apples are actually a member of the same family as roses.

4. I am a huge procrastinator. I am also a lover of Gone with the Wind, and Scarlett, who is firmly planted in tomorrow. Makes sense for the origin of the word procrastination to be linked to tomorrow... because procrastination is a firm belief in the power of tomorrow. The word comes from the Latin procrastinatus, past participle of procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrow.

5. Being a regional champion is fun!  I knew this from when I was a teenager, but it's been a while for Breathitt Co. Getting to go to the state All A was definitely a highlight of this month. Watching our girls cut down nets, being lavished with media attention, being escorted by the firetruck through town while they hung out the bus windows yelling their lungs out... reminded me of why I put up with late nights and basketball talk 24/7. The great thing is that we still have a month of basketball before
the regular Regional Championship.

6. Snow forecasts may not always be spot on... but when they are on, they are on! We were told that last week we could receive 2 feet of snow... and when it started, it didn't stop until the next day. Heavy, thick, wet snow. My yard is still covered a week later. It's beautiful at first, but depressing once everyone digs out.

7. I loved Texas when I visited there, and was impressed by how friendly the people were. I'm not surprised that the meaning of the name Texas is associated with being a friend.

8. I can be self-disciplined when it's something that I want. I've written on this blog for 30 days straight. Yay, me!!!

Linking up with Emily Freeman for her monthly "What I've Learned" post. This helps me keep my eyes open to new findings and also helps me appreciate things that I may have forgotten as I rediscover them.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Quiet

Some days it's soothing. The emptiness allows my thoughts to come together. My to do list grows but seems manageable. I process what I read, and think about what could be.

And then some days, the emptiness is overwhelming. It almost seems smothering. My thoughts scream in my head, telling me I'm not good enough or I don't have what it takes.

The TV stays off, black, and I'm curled up under a blanket on the couch reading a book. I can picture the characters in my head and can hear them talking.

But sometimes I need the music, as I sit in my office and try to work. Being productive usually means a little bit of noise, as though my brain can't work well enough if it doesn't have something to drown out those thoughts.

During the week, I welcome it but rarely get it. The bouncing of basketballs and the squeak of shoes, of the scoreboard buzzing and popcorn crunching in my teeth...

Or the sound of my fingers on the keyboard, or of IV pumps beeping.

Random noises that remind me of myself.

They keep me honest.

But after five days straight of the cacophony of chaos, the introvert is thankful when I'm up earlier than everyone else in my house. My bare feet slap against the cold floor, cutting through the air and making sure I'm awake.

And I'm content to sit and breathe it in, this lifeline... that keeps me semi-sane.

Linking up with Five Minute Fridays, where we write about one prompt for five minutes, free from editing. This week's word?


Thursday, January 28, 2016


I can't cook...

but I like watching cooking shows.

Tell me the irony in that.

Watching Cupcake Wars makes me think that I can bake...

but the only cupcakes I've ever made were fresh out of a box.

And my icing looks nothing like there's.

And I sure couldn't make those decorations out of fondant.

Yet I sit here, enthralled, at the different kinds of flavors that I never could have dreamed up.

Rhubarb? Chocolate cashews with caramel inside? Orange cupcakes with blueberries inside?

Whatever happened to Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix...

Guess I'll just be content to eat them.

If only I had some red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Gift

Celebrate the small things.

Like the fact that I made it out of my icy driveway today without sliding into the creek.

(Although I've yet to make it home).

And like the fact that my student brought in gooey, glazey (is that a word... but they were. Dripping with glaze) donuts this morning as a special treat.

And the fact that I'm breathing.

That's always a bonus.

Because sometimes life isn't all that great...

but there's always good in every day.

The sunshine outside.

My pink coat that makes me smile because Wallace was thoughtful enough to purchase it.

Texts from Caleb.

Life is a gift.  We just have to view it as such.

Even though sometimes we're not sure we like the package it comes in. Even if the ribbon is tied in knots that we can't figure out how to get loose.

He's holding it out to us, one moment at a time. It's not let's make a deal, where you choose from one door or another and one door has the real prize.

Every choice we make can be the real prize. We just have to learn to appreciate it.

Help me, Lord, stay focused on You and Your gifts.

In Jesus's sweet name.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Purpose of Love


My focus for 2016.

Praying for it...

when I think about praying. (Which is a whole 'nother blog post).

So tonight, as I was thinking about what I'm "meant" to do, thinking about the shield of faith that I so rarely pick up (just being honest... I bet those shields were heavy in old days. And a faith shield sometimes seems too heavy for me, too.  Even though I want to faithful...)

I found myself writing this. "Sometimes you overcomplicate things."

Yes. I overcomplicate and overanalyze.

Maybe my one purpose isn't some big grand pie in the sky thing... even though I sincerely believe God wants us to dream big.

Maybe I'll only fulfill my purpose when I STOP wondering just what my purpose is and START doing what God tells me to do...

Love Him.  With everything.

And with the nothing that I have left over, except what He spills out from me... love others.

Follow Micah 6:8 "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

And then, as I was pondering love and mercy and how to be a better person, a friend posted this picture on Facebook... a screenshot of something I had posted a while back.

Yes, my "purpose" may still be unclear to me...

But I know the only thing that really matters is love.

Monday, January 25, 2016

One Heck of a Day

Today I...

woke up extra early.

Went back to bed and slept a little late.

Chatted with my Grandma about her teaching school and her living in Michigan and her sisters and being married for almost 64 years.

Had Melody stare at me until I had to hold her for 15 minutes because as long as I talked to her she smiled but when I stopped she cried.

Got kisses from Melody.

Almost taught Melody how to play patty-cake.

At gravy and biscuits at my Mama's and did her dishes.

Gave Melody rasberries on her tummy.

Listened to Melody laugh when Caleb tried to open the trash bag. He waved it in the air, it made a noise, she laughed... so he had to repeat it a few times.

Shoveled snow off my car until I thought I would have a heart attack and then thanked the good Lord for sending Papaw William to finish the job.

Prayed that Kentucky wouldn't go into overtime with Tennessee because I had promised myself I was walking on the treadmill until the game was over.

Cried a little because sometimes situations are not in our control.

Thought about my week ahead and planned out my to do list.

"If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special."- Jimmy V

So, I've had a heck of a day. Praying for a good day tomorrow as we have our first clinical day of the semester!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's So Wonderful...

If I close my eyes, I can picture it.

There's a dog curled up on one rug and a cat lounging on the back of the couch.

Because I'm feeling like it's summertime, the screen door is propped open to let some fresh air in.

There's an open Bible and an ink pen on the kitchen table next to a plate of peanut butter and crackers and a glass of milk, ready for him to make his way home for lunch.

And she sits there, apron on, hair up in a salt and pepper bun, fingers poised on the piano keys.

She doesn't read the music, but she feels it in her bones.

True worship is like that...

An all body experience. It's what you have to get out of you because you can't keep it in.

The notes ring loud and true from the slightly out of tune keyboard...

and she hums along in her quiet voice.

The kids run through the hallway, slamming the basement door as they run to the hidden closet.

She just keeps singing...

"He made the lame to walk, and He caused the dumb to talk, and He healed them of their dreaded leprosies."

The girls have on her high heel shoes, purses slung over their shoulders.

Or they are sprawled on the floor, a game of Sorry stretched out on the ottoman.

"He made Jesus live again... It's so wonderful, what my God can do..."

The notes fade as she gets up to pour another cup of Sprite, to wash one more dish, to walk outside to swing...

And they are faded now, but if I close my eyes and try...

really, really concentrate...

I can just hear them in the background.

I'm not that imaginative, but there are some things that I hope I never forget, things that I hope stay engrained in my memory forever...

and her at the piano, or at the kitchen table with her head bowed in prayer...

I hope those stay with me forever...

Or at least until I can hear her singing in that angel choir.

It is wonderful, what God can do.

He still heals.

He still saves.

And He offers comfort like no one else can.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On: A Review

I've never really thought of myself as a romantic. I consider myself much too sensible for that. Being that I am married to someone who definitely isn't a romantic, I may just be making excuses. I like the idea of romance... I just don't seem to see much of it in my own life, and I'm not complaining.

That may be why I love Debbie Macomber so much.

I first discovered Macomber's Cedar Cove series a few years ago and was hooked. Macomber writes with a flair for the romance, but her characters are real to life. Mistakes they make, things they say... I could see myself doing them.

A Girl's Guide to Moving On is no different. This novel features an unlikely alliance between a mother-in-law and her ex-daughter-in-law. Both hurt by love. Both trying to figure out independence. Both looking to move on, but not being sure how. In their turmoil, they provide each other support and develop three rules to help guide them on their way. These rules focus on moving forward rather than wallowing in pain, reaching out to others, and putting themselves in new situations by fostering new friendships.

As they step out into new territory, they learn that love can come from the most unlikely places, and that the bitterness of love lost can turn sweet through new hope. There's just enough drama thrown into to entice the reader, but this is an easy read for a cold winter's day snuggled up on the couch.

I would give this book 5 stars because of the writing style, which is easy to follow. Macomber uses narration from both Nichole and Leanne, in alternating chapters, so that the reader gets the story from different perspectives. The characters are loveable; you find yourself cheering for them and wishing them the best.

The story puts a new spin on the mother-in-law relationship and shows that family doesn't always mean blood relation. It offers hope that good can come from bad circumstances.

So if you're looking for an easy, light-hearted read, I'd highly recommend this book.

I received free access to this book through and am posting this review on their website. This book is available for purchase on February 13, 2016. I receive no compensation from Amazon for using their link with the book information.
Professional Reader

Friday, January 22, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Present

There was recently an article going around Facebook that showed a series of pictures.

The people in them are lying on the couch or sitting at the dinner table.

They appear pretty absurd... because in each picture, they should have been holding a cell phone.

Actually, they were, but the phone was photoshopped out.

It shows how scarily connected we are to our cell phones.

I noticed it the other night at Beauty and the Beast. At the beginning of the play, the announcer said, "This story took place in a time before cell phones, so please put them up at this time."

Kami leaned over to me and said, "That means you."... because I am so guilty.

It's a habit, really, this scrolling on my screen. I do it at ballgames when I get nervous and I do it when I get lonely.

So, at intermission, you look...

And there we all sit. With out iphones and galaxies, those little screens lit up and our fingers flying on the keyboard.

We miss out on memories because we are trying to think of how we should frame them on social media.

Now don't get me wrong. I love social media...

but sometimes it is too easy to get swept away by what is on the other side of that screen and miss the person sitting right next to you.

As my word of the year is purpose, I've resolved to be more intentional. More aware of others.

More present.

Present in my environment. Present to the people around me.

Not thinking about yesterday. Not worrying about tomorrow.

But enjoying the here. The now. The present.

Laughing at what they say and hugging long and hard and looking them in the eye.

This morning I read a quote posted on facebook (see, social media!) by Ann Voskamp. It's attributed to Jim Elliot. "Wherever you are, just be there."

The greatest gift you can give to yourself? To someone else?

Appreciation of the present.

So today I'm appreciating my heater and my warm from the dryer sweatshirt as the snow pours down outside. And when Caleb asks to go outside, I just may brave the cold to soak up some snow time with him.

Linking up with five minute Friday, where we write for five minutes on one prompt, unedited. Today's prompt?


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Peace that Passes

I'm looking out my window at blue skies right now.

Nothing sinister to be noted.

We  had a flurry of snowflakes yesterday that caused my work and Caleb's school to be canceled.

Today I came in and was as productive as one can be when anticipating Snow-pocalypse.

As I'm anticipating the 8-12 inches we are going to get beginning tomorrow (y'all... wasn't there a time when forecasters were wrong? I'm clinging to that hope...) I'm also thinking of a lovely beach somewhere. The sun is warm on my face, and the waves are lapping my feet...

Although I told you yesterday that I'm not good at guided imagery, I'm willing to try.

Here's the thing. This snow forecast is a lot like life. I can plan to be off work for a week because we'll be snowed in...

but then the storm moves a little north or a little south and we don't have nearly the accumulation we were told we'd have.

And there I am, stuck, with nothing ready for class next week.

(Which, even though I am a procrastinator, is NOT the case.  In fact, I had stuff ready for next week last week. My dedication to my planner this semester has been a beautiful, beautiful thing... at least three weeks in.)

But in life, it's the same thing. We worry and plan and worry and plan...

and then NOTHING that we worried about comes to fruition.

But something totally unexpected happens, and because we had never considered that scenario, we have no clue what we're supposed to do.

Or we become paralyzed by all of those make believe worries and are unable to respond to any obstacle we face.

I'm a worrier, y'all. As in I come up with a million scenarios. I usually talk myself into not even starting something because I'm afraid I won't know how to finish it.

But that's not what God wants for me.

He tells us in His Word to be anxious for NOTHING.

Nothing- no storm, no unexpected event, no something you've worried about endlessly that probably will never take place.

Nope. Nothing.

So... how do we not worry?

Turn to Him. In everything. Pray and ask Him.  Tell Him what you need. Tell Him your worries. (From another verse, throw those cares right at Him like a great big ol' minnow to catch a fish.)

And when we do this? When we pray and seek Him and ask Him for His help?

He will give us peace.

Not just any peace.

Peace that passes all understanding.  You can't even fathom it... but it's there.

And it's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Beauty and the Beast

Another one of those days when I really don't have much to write.... so I pulled up a list of writing prompts I found on Pinterest.

And nothing there really struck my fancy, either.

Although one of them was if you could be an animal for a day, what would you be (addressed yesterday)... and another was what color would you be? I explained how I'm not creative enough for those icebreakers. I tend to lean more on the literal.

I don't have much of an imagination. When I was young, I used to have a great imagination. I spent a lot of my time creating stories and pretending to be other people... but somehow lost that.

I mean, I'm one of those people who can't read a book after I've seen a movie because I can't imagine the character as anyone other than the actor or actress. I don't like relaxation techniques because they ask you to "close your eyes. Imagine walking along a beach. The waves are hitting on the shore and the sun is shining on your face. Imagine the sun warming your face..."

I can't imagine it... but I sure wish I could right about now.

That's why I wasn't sure about how great Beauty and the Beast would be. I've watched plays at Jenny Wiley, and they've been good, but I'm not good at stretching my imagination when they change scenes.

But last night... I was enthralled. Even with minimal scenery, the actors and actresses swept you into the story. The props were just enough so that you could imagine the scenes, and the costumes (especially for the Beast and his household) were perfect.

I was enchanted.

Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorite Disney movies, perhaps because it is about a girl who always has her nose in a book. I love the songs and the storyline of how love prevails. The message that you can't always go by appearances is timeless, and may be even more relevant in today's social media driven society.

I couldn't tell you how long it has been since I've saw that movie, but I knew most songs word for word. I found myself wiping tears as Belle and the Beast sat in the library discovering King Arthurs's Court and then as they danced after dinner.

And the transformation back to the Prince? Magical.

I've never been to Broadway, and have always wanted to go... and last night's show made me a believer.

Plus it was a delightful time with my Mom and sisters... a must repeat performance.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Just Call Me Bear...

In meetings, I always struggle with those icebreaker questions.

You know... what kind of fruit would you be?

If you were a color, would you be red or blue?

What kind of animal would you choose to be?

Last night I decided,  though.

If I could be an animal, I would be a bear.

Y'all, it is cold here in Kentucky. It was 16 degrees when I started my car up. It was so cold that even with my automatic starter and the heat turned on high, there was still snow/frost on my windshield.

I know I sound a little whiny.

I know it's nothing compared to negative temperatures like they experience in the Dakotas. Or Wisconsin.

(That is where they experience negative temperatures, right? I'll admit I've  never traveled to North or South Dakota, so I have no idea what the temperatures are like. I'm just going by my memory of the TV show Fargo... wasn't that a TV show? Because I am sometimes guilty of making things up in my mind and not knowing if they are the truth or not. And also, Green Bay fans always look cold when they are playing in January...)

But, anyway, I don't like the cold. I don't like snow, except on Christmas, and also on days when we have snow days, but that's only because I can snuggle under my electric blanket with a  good book and pretend like I have nothing to do because I live in a snow globe.

So, as I covered up under my electric blanket and thought about the probability that my boys would not have school the next day, I came up with my bear theory. And y'all, it makes perfect sense. Bears get to eat whatever they want to store up body fat...

so they can sleep all winter.

No trekking through the snow for them. No worrying about not being able to button their pants or having to go start a car.

Nope, they eat and then they sleep until the temperature is warm.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Damsel In Distress

This morning I read in Ruth, one of my favorite books of the Bible. No matter how many times I read it, the story tugs at my heart.

First, you have Naomi, who has literally lost everything. She's in a strange land. Her husband has died. Her two sons have died.

In those days, it wasn't like she could just decide to go back to school and support herself.  The fact that she was left without a husband or male children meant that she would be a burden on society. She would be forced to take whatever handouts she could get and live on those.

So she decides to return home.

To a home, mind you, that she really doesn't have... because she wasn't allowed to own property.

To a home that she has been away from for a long time. Will they even know her?

There's that old saying about you can't return home again... but Naomi returned.

I'm not sure how far she traveled to go home. I still can't fathom in my mind walking from country to country the way that they had to... with no gas station to sell Diet Coke or no McDonalds golden arches or no hotel to check into... not even a rest stop with a toilet.

I can't even get that image in my mind.

But she put one foot in front of another, and her two daughters in law went with her.

They must have loved her.

No bad mother in law jokes here. They were willing to leave their home, everything that they knew, to follow a woman who could promise them nothing. No security. They didn't even know what she was returning to...

So she persuaded one to turn back. I'm pretty sure I'd be like Orpha. I love my mother in law, but to trek to another place that I know nothing about to depend on the kindness of strangers?

Nope, I'd just be heading right back to my Daddy's tent and reminding him of how much he loved me when he married me off to that foreigner.

But Ruth. She stays with Naomi. She follows her on that long, dusty road.

"Entreat me not to leave thee...."

She says.

I'll go where you go, even if I don't know where that is or anything about it.

That's faith.

I'll live where you live, even if it is in a tent, even if it is under a bush because we have no means for anything else.

That's dedication.

Your people will be my people, even if they look different and talk different and behave different.

That's a new identity.

Your God will be my God, even though I can't understand one God who is sovereign and merciful... and how that God could allow everything that you had to be snatched away from you.

That's relationship, not just religion.

And I recognize that I may die, that our journey isn't going to be easy... but where you die, I'll die, and I'll be buried there.

Because I may not understand it, but I know that Your God has a plan. I may not be able to put into words.. and I see that you are suffering... but Your God will make a way.

Or maybe she just had a bad relationship with her own folks...

But regardless of her reasoning, Ruth set out with Naomi.

It couldn't have been a pleasant journey. They were penniless. Naomi tells people later to call her bitter, so her disposition probably wasn't the most pleasant.

But Ruth is faithful.

And then, when they get to their destination. Ruth sets out to care for Naomi in the only way she knows how.

She goes to a field to pick crops.

Not just any crops. She gleans those which were left behind by someone else.

How many of us would be willing to do that? To willingly take the leftovers? To work hard for those left overs? I see so much entitlement in this world- I deserve the biggest and the best.

But we're told to be humble.

So Ruth worked hard. She continued...

kept going. Even though she didn't know the outcome. She's a damsel in distress that isn't just sitting around waiting for her prince to come.

But... her prince does come. He sees what she is doing. He's heard how she cared for Naomi. He provides for her and then serves as her redeemer... giving her everything she ever dreamed and even more.

You may feel like you've had the rug swept out from under you. That you've lost everything. You may tell others to call you bitter. You may be working hard and think no one's noticing. You may be gleaning seconds and feeling left out. You may feel like giving up...

but there's someone watching you. He's numbered your days and knows how many hairs you have on your head. He sees you working... and is faithful that He'll help you complete that work, in His time. He longs for you to turn to Him and ask Him to redeem you... and you'll be able to stop working so hard, because He's already done all the necessary work.


Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A New Resolution

So, here we are.

Just over two weeks into the New Year.

We may finally be writing 2016 on our papers... or we may still catch ourselves with 2015 on our door schedules for the office.

The new year is no longer shiny and bright.

We're back in school, praying for snow days.

We're in all day Friday meetings, thankful for long weekends.

This year, I chose one word for 2016. Purpose. I want to live a life of purpose, being intentional. Looking at each day to ensure that I do all I can to fulfill God's purpose for my life.

Keeping purpose as my focus will hopefully impact my daily decisions. My attitude. My responses to other people, even.

But because I like lists, and like planning, I didn't just stop at one word.

I developed some goals to focus on. Sixteen of them, to be exact. Some are things that I do every year. Resolve to exercise more, be more thankful, read my Bible all the way through. Others I thought of because I want my life to be a purposeful city on a hill... so I resolved to be kinder through random/unrandom acts of kindness, to spend more time with those I love, to laugh every day, to write out a Scripture every day... small things that add up in the log run.

I've done pretty well. I've not exercised every day, but I'm still on target for the goal that I set. And I've not read my Bible reading plan every day, but I have read something in the Bible every day. Most days I've done something kind for someone, and I've been able to record a moment where I laughed every day.

But here's the thing...

I don't know how long I'll be consistent. Life has a way of getting into our plans. Expect the unexpected... and sometimes that comes in the form of late night ballgames, or running to town on errands for someone, or even taking a whole evening to snuggle with your baby niece.

And that's ok...

because life truly is more about the journey than the destination (well, ok... it's a whole lot about the ultimate destination... because that should influence every decision I make). You see, this resolution or goal setting thing is a process. Forming good habits and changing my perspective is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. And really, it doesn't happen through anything that I do. I can CHOOSE to make good decisions, but there will still be the day when I don't respond like I should, because I'm human and fleshly.

But God.

The two greatest words in the human language.

Even on those days when I lose my resolve, when I question my purpose, when I let me intentions drift away and choose to stay in bed under the covers because I just can't face the day...

God is there. And He is doing a good thing.

So, if you're like 30% of the population and have already given up on your resolution... or if you didn't even set one, there's good news for you.

Today can be Day One.

"I don't know about you, but I seem to be in need of a Day One resolution- a new one every day! Every single day I need to make a new commitment to put God first, trust Him with my life, and keep fighting the good fight."- Matthew West, Day One

As I seek my daily purpose, may I focus on commitment to Him... and that purpose will be fulfilled because He has a greater plan.

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning."- Lamentations 3:22-23


Saturday, January 16, 2016

My Dearest Kentucky

Caleb has been writing in the paper for a couple of months now. At first he would sit down with me and ask me to critique what he wrote, or type it out and text it to me. Sometimes we'd have to brainstorm ideas for a column together, because he wasn't sure what he wanted to write about. I'd also doublecheck to see if he had sent it into the paper.
So last week we were sitting at Variety Pizza and our conversation went like this.
Me: "Caleb, did you send in Novice Notions."
Caleb: "Yep."
Me: "What did you write about?"
Caleb: "A letter to Kentucky."
Me: "What in the world did you write to Kentucky?"
Caleb: "You'll just have to buy the paper and read it to find out.
So, on Thursday morning, I did just that... and proceeded to sit in my car wiping tears from my eyes as I read these words.

As I read those words, I thought about heritage and how we are all a product of so many things. A lot of those things I could relate to...

Being forced to wake up and go to church almost every Sunday of my life.
Mamaw's handpies and Papaw Paul calling me "kadiddle hopper".

Because Caleb is a little extension of me, and what we learn, we pass on to others.

So as I thought about what he loved about Kentucky, I couldn't help but think of myself.

Kentucky, I love you because of hot summertimes where the creek was dry and I could go crawl on a sun-warmed rock in the creekbed and read about other times and places and people. (And didn't think about the snakes that were probably lurking nearby. This makes me shudder to think about now.)

I love you because of treks up Natural Bridge where I would stand close to the edge and worry about tottering off, looking down into that vast green canopy of trees and thinking about Daniel Boone crossing into new territory (because as a kid I didn't really realize that Natural Bridge wasn't where Daniel Boone crossed over).

I love you because of chilly creek waters and mudpies in the summertime.

I love you because of the Mountain Parkway, that first glimpse of the mountains in the distance as you go through Powell County, letting me know that I'm heading home.

I love you because of friendly faces on small town streets.

I love you because of the bouncing of basketballs on hard wood floors, an almost religion across this state.

I love you because you have taught me hope: hope that even though we let the greatest football coach of all times leave, and have struggled since, especially through Joker... and continued to struggle under Stoops (who I like), I cling to hope that our football team will get turned around.

I love you because of white fences and rolling hills of bluegrass and beautiful horses grazing.

Mostly, I love you because you are home. The place I choose to live. I could go anywhere in the world. Every place in America needs nurses, and with Wallace's vast resume I'm pretty sure he could find a job in something (because how many teachers/coaches/military/healthcare administrators do you know?)

But I didn't leave because I love you. Even in our struggles. Even in our poverty. Even though sometimes we are apathetic to our situation. Even though we are often unwilling to change (and I am just as guilty).

Just as Caleb said that you sometimes make him feel closed in, you make me feel protected. Secure. When I see those mountains, I know where I came from, and knowing where we came from can help us know where we need to go.

So thank you. Thank you for teaching me to be open to new people even though I see the same people on the street everyday. Different is sometimes good. Thank you for teaching me that in order to be successful, I had to work... and marry somebody that works a little harder. Thank you for teaching me that family is everything and that all we have is each other. Thank you for teaching me about love in action... I've seen it in every disaster this part of the state has faced.. in tornados or floods, we bind together and support one another. Thank you for being in the Bible Belt so that I learned that God is in the details. If you've ever seen a Kentucky sunrise in the fog of these mountains you know there's a great Creator. Thank you for my heritage.

There's no place like home.

Friday, January 15, 2016


It seems like yesterday I was standing on the sidelines chewing my fingernails and praying that we'd make just one more shot.

Time waits for no man.

And just like that... I've been married for over 16 years and I'm still standing in a gym praying we'd make just one more shot.

Sixteen long years of game plans and defenses and late nights and popcorn for supper and yelling at the refs and loving on girls after their coach has done just the opposite.

Sixteen years of pacing around gyms and wishing for just one more second on the clock, because time is relative when you're playing a ballgame.

The clock ticks slow when you're leading but drags on when you're behind.

Time seems to stand still as girls shoot free throws and the ball rolls around the rim.

Time flies by and before you know it those same kids have kids and are coaching against your husband.


Time and again I say I love high school basketball and I mean it every time I say it.

And tomorrow... the finals for the 14th Region All A tournament.

It's our time.

Or rather, my girls' time.

Some point out that we are a larger school than most schools in it, and that is true.

No, we aren't technically a Class A school, but we have a declining population and were invited to fill one of the spots.

Because the All A is for the smallest 131 schools in the state of Kentucky.

I think this tournament comes at a prime time because our kids need it.

Not just my ball girls... but kids in Breathitt County in general.

We seem to have gone back in time as we've been under state management the last few years. (Not that I'm against state management. I think it was time that our district made some changes. We're still in the process of making those changes, and it will take time for us to get to where we need to be.)

Somehow, some of our kids got lost in the transition.

And this tournament... well, it's a way to show our kids that Breathitt County isn't all that bad.

The excitement in that gym was palpable tonight.

And when time was up...

we had won.

I saw fire in the eyes of those players...

But I also saw pride in the eyes of our pep section.

And it's about time.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today, where we write for 5 minutes about one prompt, no editing, just writing.

Word today?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dreams Don't Work...

I've always loved to write. I do my best thinking with words, pen on paper; or lately, keys on keyboard.

I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy writing. Oh, I didn't like writing my alphabet over and over again... but creating stories? I'm pretty sure I did that from the moment that I knew how to form words.

I mostly write for myself, although I like sharing here to help encourage others. I feel like if it's something I'm struggling with, chances are there is someone else who needs encouragement with it as well.

Sometimes I have this big dream that maybe I can write something worth reading...

I mean, a lot of the times I think I write things worth reading.

But I dream of publishing.

Having my name in print.

Doesn't that sound prideful?

I have lots of story ideas. I have Caleb, who provides me with endless content... except he's getting older and isn't too fond of me sharing those stories.

I could write about nursing. So many things that you do in the clinical setting are hard to believe unless you experience it. Nursing is truly the best profession on the planet, some days... but it is very, very hard on other days. It can be one of the most rewarding and most challenging all in a matter of seconds.

Or I could write about Eastern Kentucky... maybe a fiction novel set in a small town like Jackson, where nothing really happens.

A devotional? I love reading my Bible.

To do anything well, you have to practice, and that's what this write 365 days is for me. It's creating the habit of writing. I still do this pretty late at night, just before bed, and not for a set time. Just making sure I get in at least 15 minutes a day.

To be a "true" author I would think I'd need to be more committed. Set aside an actual block of time each week.

So, maybe as I look ahead to the coming week, as I reflect on this past week, I'll try to add in a small block of time where I could work on an actual writing project. Maybe spend some time brainstorming some ideas.

Because dreams don't work unless you do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Somebody's Gonna Win....

Today's powerball is $1.5 billion dollars.

I'm not even sure how much money that is.

Wallace bought some tickets, so like most of America I'm dreaming of what would happen if I won the lottery.

Could you imagine the books I could buy?

And the time I'd have to read?

Seriously, though.

We'd pay off our bills and pay off our parents bills and make sure that our families were set. We'd support our church.

We'd provide a huge endowment to Breathitt County athletics and make sure that there were plenty of volleyballs to hit. The SMS football team would never have to fundraise again.

We'd sponsor scholarships to HCTC and I'd build a new nursing lab. I'd build a community rec center with an indoor swimming pool and a movie theatre.

We'd donate to charities. I'd use it for many, many random acts of kindness.

To be honest, I have no idea what we'd really do with that money.

Chances are, if someone does win tonight, they won't know what to do with it, either.

Even though I can't fathom that amount, I'm pretty sure it could  be more easily spent than one might think. After taxes... and paying off bills... and wasting it... and your 9,999,999 new friends...

And then there is the fear that would have to come with it. If someone found out you had that kind of money... what a huge target on your back.

So tonight as I'm dreaming about what would happen if I were to wake up a billionaire (hello, shopping spree!!!), I'm thinking about a verse from the Bible.

We're told to lay up our treasures in heaven. Our reward there can't be spent. We've received a free deposit into ourselves of our inheritance in the form of the Holy Spirit... and the inheritance waiting is more than we can imagine, too.

"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."- Matthew 6:19-21

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Back on the Wagon

Y'all.  Pride stinks.

I've been so proud of myself for maintaining my weight all of 2015.  Going back to work means seeing people you haven't seen in a couple of weeks, and I had several people tell me "You've lost more weight."

And I had... until last week.

I can't blame it on the holidays, although I may have indulged a little in red velvet cupcakes.

I can blame it on brown butter cookies from Yoder's in Knott County.

Two plates of them.


I've also been increasing my water intake, so this morning I almost let myself be convinced when Wallace assured me that the five pounds I gained this week is water weight.

Until I considered those brown butter cookies.

I've preached and preached about how my weight loss hasn't been focused on diet, and I still stand firm on that. I really haven't limited what I've eaten, and have found that increasing my exercise has balanced it out. I weigh every single day, first thing in the morning. Some research advises against that, because of fluctuations that may be discouraging, but it helps me admit if I'm starting to go down the wrong track. I've also started tracking what I eat, writing it down, which research shows helps you be more aware.

Apparently brown butter cookies take a couple of days to be metabolized into fat. And maybe I didn't quite realize how many times I wrote down "brown butter cookie".  Or maybe I did and just thought that I was invincible.

So tonight, I got on the treadmill even though I really didn't want to and walked an extra half mile when what I really wanted to do was crawl in the bed under the heated blanket and drown my weight gain in white chocolate Kit Kats.

And tomorrow I'll keep drinking water and maybe opt not to eat the large fry with my value meal.

On second thought, I'll be having popcorn at the concession stand and walking laps during the game because that's just what I do.

Wonder how many laps one brown butter cookie equals?

Monday, January 11, 2016


During Christmas break, I spent some time on Pinterest.

Just as I had previously avoided the Netflix binge addiction, I had avoided logging on Pinterest and perusing for hours.

Namely, because I don't cook and I'm not a DIYer.

But also because from previous experience, when I first logged on to the site a year or so ago, I learned how easily it is to lose hours of your life.

I'm not even sure how I ended up on Pinterest. Maybe someone had posted something on facebook and I clicked on it.

There I was.

Literally with the world at my fingertips.

Because, y'all.

You can find anything in the world on pinterest.

I pinned articles to read later (that I still haven't read) and quotes to use and writing prompts for when this #write365 days idea just isn't working.

But who needs writing prompts when you can write about Pinterest for 15 minutes?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Binge Watching

I've never been an avid TV watcher.

Through the years, I've been a fan of many shows. On the days we'd come home straight after school, I loved the Brady Bunch and the Munsters and the Adams Family on TBS. I loved The Cosby Show and The Wonder Years and Full House. Family Ties and Different Strokes and Saved by the Bell. Fresh Prince of BelAir and Blossom. Because I loved the book series, Little House on the Prairie.

And nothing compares to ER and Friends.

But to say that I never missed a show... well, not really.

Y'all know that I'd just as soon read a good book as to watch a TV show.  In fact, on days when I'm at home alone, I usually don't turn the TV on unless it's to watch Dance Moms while walking on the treadmill or a basketball or football game.

I've never been one to binge on Netflix.

Except last year, when Caleb wanted me to watch Once Upon a Time with him and I needed to catch up to know what was going on.

And now.

Wallace and I have been watching Making a Murderer. We started watching it when I saw numerous posts on facebook and also when we saw it on the news in the morning. We're not necessarily binge watching, although we have watched about half of the series in five days.

Our conversations through the show go something like this.

Wallace: "I'm not sure if he did it or not."

Me: "Hmmm"

Wallace: "I think they've set him up."

Me: "Hmmm"

Wallace: "I don't know. Maybe he is guilty."

and so on and so forth. Wallace has never figured out that you're not supposed to actually talk about the show as you are watching it.

I've not yet to form an opinion. There are several things that make me think he could be guilty, but then there seem to be some serious problems with the investigation.

And Kami tells me that even after I watch the whole thing I probably won't be sure.

It's outraged many across America, and petitions have been signed for his release.

What it's mainly made me think of is how we can make entertainment out of even the most heinous of situations.

Which is kind of scary in and of itself....

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Collection

Yesterday my Mom shared a link on my facebook page of the Honey Festival when I was little. She asked if I remembered deliberating at the candle booth. I had completely forgotten about my candle collection, but when she shared the video, I can remember. I'd stand at the booth, looking at each candle depicting different animals, and think about how much money I had to spend. I added to my collection every year until the booth no longer was open at the Honey Festival.

I also had a rock collection. I came by this one honest, as my Grandma Bert used to have a rock garden on the side of her house. Everytime we'd go somewhere new, Grandma would want us to bring her back a rock. I'd collect rocks, too... and buy them. I loved looking at fake turquoise and fools' gold. I was so excited when one of our assignments in 4th grade was to bring in a rock collection. I did, but we had a substitute teacher who forgot to mark it down. First D I ever got in school...

I collected clothespin dolls, also sold at the Honey Festival. I collected postcards. I collect Longaberger baskets and Bybee pottery. And naturally, I collected (and still do!) books.

Today I visited with my Grandma and I thought about those collections. She's what you'd call a major collector. In her house, she has over 4,000 owls.

Yes.  4,000. Evertime she gets a new one she marks it down.

There are owls on her bath curtain and owls on her pillows and owls sitting on every flat surface.

Owls calendars and owl mugs and owl.... well, everything.

I always assumed that she started collecting owls as a teacher in Owsley County. Today I asked her, but she told me I was wrong.

She said that even as a young girl, if they went to yard sales or anything, she looked for things with owls. She just liked them.

Through the years, people found out she collected them, so they'd pick them up whenever they saw them at a flea market or the Opportunity store, they'd buy it for her. Many of them have initials, names, or dates written on the bottom of them.

They're part of her legacy... each one with it's own story of what she means to the person who buys it for her.

Things are nice... but the people behind them are what really matter.

Thankful today for listening to her story.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Five Minute Friday: First

I stare at this white screen with a blank mind.

Much like I often stare at the treadmill, or stare at a article to read, or a care plan to grade.

The first step is always the hardest.

Once I get it over with, that first word typed or the first step or the first highlight, I'm usually okay.

I spend more time dreading things than I do actually doing them.

I'm a major procrastinator. I usually put things off until the last minute... usually because I don't know what to do first.  What if it's the wrong thing? Or what if that first step trips me up? Better to just keep putting it off...

I think of Abraham, taking that first step to a country he knew nothing about. No GPS. No map. No cell phone. No weather forecast. Just him, his family... and His God.

And taking that first step up the mountain with Isaac. With his son, who wasn't his firstborn, but who was to get the firstborn inheritance. Except God was sending him to sacrifice him. Are you being serious, God?

That first time binding his son to place him in the altar.

"What does this mean, Dad? What are you doing? Are you crazy in your old age? Without me you have nothing. Your descendants are supposed to number the sky. How will that happen if I'm dead?"

(Or maybe he said nothing at all. We're not really told.  I'm not sure I want to imagine.)

And then... that first bleat. The ram in the bushes. The provision, not the first time that God had shown his provision to Abraham, but most likely the one Abraham would remember on his death bed.

A series of firsts... because Abraham wasn't afraid. He trusted in God.

May I commit my firsts to Him as well.

Chiming in on five minute Fridays, where we use one word as a prompt to write for five minutes, unedited (although I will admit I cheated a little and forgot to set my timer). Today's word??? FIRST

Thursday, January 7, 2016

One of Those Days

So today was one of THOSE days.

Everybody and everything got on my nerves.

I think it's probably because I talked about joy yesterday...

Even though I listened to sermons as I crossed things off of my to do list, and even though last night's Bible study was about having joy in whatever...

I still crack under pressure. I become passive aggressive and snippety and am not the great light that I want to be.

I'm reminded of Paul's verse in Romans. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."

And I do hate it.

I feel guilty and then that makes me feel worse.

I'm reminded that joy is a choice. I have to choose to look at the bright side of things. It's not that we should live in a world of denial.  We have to face our problems. However, we don't have to dwell on them. We don't have to allow them to dictate our mood.

But I do sometimes.

And I'm not sure why.

Tonight I'm reminded of the connection between being joyful and being grateful. I'm reminded that when I start looking at all of the things that are right in my world, it's easy not to focus on the things that seem wrong.

Like a win with two of our starters on the bench with 5 fouls with 5 minutes to go... and those other players stepping up and playing as a team.

Like laughing with Caleb on the way home as we make up songs, even though we had been fighting like cats and dogs the whole evening.

Like brown butter cookies and diet coke.

I often question so many of the "made up holidays"... sibling day and national ice cream day. Tomorrow is national bubble bath day... which I think sounds lovely.

Tonight, though, as I was thinking about that, I realized that we need something to celebrate. It's easy to get stuck in that negativity.  We make up holidays to celebrate so that we can appreciate things better.

Kind of silly, when you think about it, because we have the most special thing ever to celebrate... and being appreciative is just a matter of thinking of all He has done for us.

Thank You, Jesus. Help me hang on to You and fill me with Your joy.

(And, just so you know, January 8th is National JoyGerm Day... spread the germ of joy and kindness!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Joy of the Lord

His handwriting isn't the best in the world; I can say I come by it honest.

But he always uses the same black or blue or red Uniball pen.

He's used that kind for years.

They've written cramped numbers in spreadsheet after spreadsheet.

They've penned signatures on cards for me and my sisters and my Mom.

They've jotted down Scriptures as he studies his Sunday School lessons.

They've noted measurements on logs and buildings and Fort Caleb.

If I close my eyes, I can see him, pen on desk, fingers flying on the keyboard of a calculator, completing someone's taxes.

Or bent over claim files, trying to determine what his client's needs were.

And now he uses those pens to write down how many ounces Melody takes in her bottle.

Tonight, our preacher spoke on joy- Rejoice.

Joy again.

And my Dad jotted down those Scriptures. His hand furiously scribbling, to capture something to review later.

Because joy can be fleeting.

We face difficulties, and joy gets hidden in the fog...

But it's still there. Bubbling under the surface, getting ready to spill over, because Jesus came to fill us and give us the more abundant life.

And my Dad said "Praise the Lord" and "Amen" because that's just what he does.

And I listened and thought about how a lot of the times I don't feel strong.

At 36, I still look up at my Daddy and think that he's invincible. I know that he's not, but when I'm not strong, that's what he's for...

But his strength in difficult situations, as I've grown up...

It's because of the joy of the Lord.

And teary-eyed, I watched him pen those words tonight. I listened to him laugh during parts of the Bible study, because when you are joyful, you can't keep it to yourself.

And more than anything, I want what he's got.

And the good news is, it's free for the taking.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What I'm Reading in January

I have often said that I would love to be a professional reader. I know there are people out there that read for a living. I'm never reminded of that desire more than the first day back to work for the semester.

My bedside table is still piled high with books. My Kindle is still fully loaded. I can never make a dent in my to read list, because authors keep doing their jobs. That's ok, though...

Because reading is a way for me to escape, even if it is only 15 minutes a day. Usually I end my day with my Kindle in hand, and wake up in the middle of the night frantically searching for it because I have dropped it on Wallace's head...

Granted, once school starts back, I don't have as much time to read as I would like. My goal of 125 books a year means that I need to read roughly 10-11 books a month. Growing up, I liked to try to finish the book I had started before starting another. Now, though, I read several books at once. I have one in each bathroom, one in the living room, one in my car, my Kindle loaded... you get the drift.

Here's what I'm reading this month...

(Note: I'm including Amazon links or Lifeway links to these books, just so if you're like me, you can add them to your wishlist.  I received no compensation for these links nor do I receive compensation if you use them to purchase a book; just thought it'd be helpful.)

The Martian is one of those books that when I first started reading it I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it. There are lots of technical, scientific terms (because the narrator is a ROCKET SCIENTIST) but once I figured out what was going on I've enjoyed it. It's suspenseful enough to keep your attention. I'm looking forward to finishing it in time to watch the movie next week.

In the leadership academy I've been attending, we've been challenged to read a leadership book a month.  The first actual leadership book I selected was based on the recommendation of one of our guest speakers in November, about convictional leadership. It has a Christian background and is an easy read. The Conviction to Lead has made me think about what conviction is.  In today's world, we must be aware of our own convictions. And I just finished a chapter last night about how leaders are also readers- Yes!!!

Because it's football season and I love Steelers football, I'm reading About Three Bricks Shy of a Load by Roy Blount, who followed the Steelers and got the inside story behind the 1973 season. I read about this book in Dan Rooney's autobiography. Just getting started on this one, but it's the Steelers so it has to be good... and this was the time of legends! 

Better Than Before:  I've read two books by Rubin and have enjoyed both of them. This one goes a step further than talking about just happiness and talks about how habits we establish can help us b be  happier. It's no secret that I struggle with self-discipline, and find instilling habits difficult, so this book should be good. I also got it FREE from blogging for books, so check back later this month for a review!

Spring Will Come is the third book in the Bregdan Chronicles. This series was recommended to me because I love Gone with the Wind, and thus far it has lived up to the recommendation. The characters are likeable, and the plot is easy to follow. There are eight books in the series, I believe, and they are all fairly long, so this series will probably be in my reading list all year.

When the Storm Passes is another fictional book. This one centers around a 13 year old survivor of the Joplin tornado. She's lost her house, can't find her Mama, her brother has died... but she resolves to make the most of it. Avalie is a precious little girl and  you find yourself rooting for her. I'm just about halfway done with this one but it's a winner so far.

The Charms of Miss O'Hara is the biography of Ann Rutherford, who played Carreen (Scarlett's baby sister) in Gone with the Wind. Author Philip Done tells stories as they were recounted to him by Rutherford about growing up in the film industry, and how Gone with the Wind changed her life. Y'all know I love my Gone with the Wind, and this book is an interesting look at the film industry during that time.

I've just started The Collectibles. This is a book I got free on my Kindle a couple of years ago. It's about a man facing bankruptcy and a lawyer who could help him. Can't really say much about this one yet, as I'm only a couple of chapters in.

I love Priscilla Shirer. I love Bible study. And I'm loving Armor of God. This study focuses on the armor of God discussed in Ephesians 6. A Facebook group of friends are working through this one together and we're on week 2.  Oh, my word. This is an awesome study!!! I'd highly recommend it and we're not even halfway through.

Jeremiah  by Melissa Spoestra- I've had this Bible study for over a year and am just now starting it. I know it can be difficult to do more than one study together, but a friend loaned me the DVD sessions for this one so I couldn't turn it down. I'm on week 1, so I'm just getting started. I love the parts of Jeremiah that I am familiar with... but it can be some  heavy reading, too, so I'm hoping this Bible study will help me understand and frame the content.

I also love romantic fiction. Sometimes a girl just needs an easy read, and Debbie Macomber is always a good bet for lighthearted reading. Her novels pull at the heartstring and give you characters you want to invite over for dinner (or out for a cup of coffee if you're like me and you can't cook). A Girl's Guide to Moving On is Macomber's new release that I received free from net galley. It actually releases in February. Check back later in the month for a full review!

Today is Day One is another book I received free from net galley. It's a devotional by Matthew West. I love West's music and the way he writes songs based on real life stories submitted to him by his listeners. Good stuff. I'll be reviewing this one later as well.

My sister Holly and some of her friends have been having a monthly book club for the last year or so and I decided that since I needed to cultivate friendship I'd invite myself along. This month they are reading The Night Circus. I've heard awesome things about this book and so far it is pretty good. I have to get it read by Saturday so I sense a late night Friday night =)

I'm also rotating between two devotions on my Kindle- One Year Alone with God and Love is A Verb.
It's always fun to look ahead and plan what I'm going to read next. There are so many good books out there with not enough time to read them.

A Book about Christian living: Fervent
A biography: Off Balance- Dominique Moceanu (this is actually an autobiography)
A classic novel: My Antonia
A book someone tells you changed their life: Sun Stand Still
A commentary on a book of the Bible: A Matthew Henry Commentary on Jeremiah
A book about theology: Probably Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
A book with "gospel" in the title
A book your pastor recommends: The Balanced Church
A book 100 years old: Uncle Tom's Cabin
A children's book: The Secret Garden
A mystery or detective novel: Sherlock Holmes
A book published in 2016: not sure yet
A book about a current issue- not sure yet

Happy Reading, Friends!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happiness Is...

It's Monday and the first day back after Christmas break, and I'm tired.

And when I get tired, I get grumpy.

And negative.

You, too, perhaps???

So I thought I'd share some things that make me happy.

1. Purple ink pens- I love them. I love writing with them. They remind me of royalty and as Beth Moore taught me in The Inheritance, I am a Princess of the Most High God. My in-laws gave me a Walmart gift card for Christmas and I was elated because it meant I could buy several packs of ink pens without feeling guilty. It's the little things, people.

2. Entenmann's Little Bites Party Cakes- these are mini-muffin that taste like confetti cake. Probably not the best thing for me to be snacking on just before midnight, but they are soooo good.

3. College basketball. Or high school basketball. Or any kind of basketball. But tonight...
Kansas and Oklahoma are in a triple overtime duel right now... and it got me through 2.3 miles of the treadmill that I really didn't want to do.

4. ESPN- because I'm on the go and need their app to keep me abreast of ballgames, especially in crucial situations like last night when the Steelers were on the cusp of the playoffs. And also for times when the hubby is asleep and I need to be quiet so I can't turn the game on in the bedroom, but I really have to know who wins because I got emotionally involved in the game when I was walking on the treadmill...

5. My family. No explanation needed here.

Short and sweet and to the point...

Now good night, y'all. Cause tomorrow is the Tuesday after Christmas break and I'll have more fires to fight getting ready for classes in ONE WEEK!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2016


I have a major first world problem going on.

Yesterday, an appendage of my hand died.

I've admitted an addiction to a cell phone for a while. Once I got a smart phone, and had the internet at my fingertips, it was too easy to not become addicted.

Check my email. Read a book. Keep track of my steps. Look up a Bible verse. Snap a pic.

It's a one shop stop.

Until it decides to freeze on the apple screen for some unknown reason.

I tried turning it off. Resetting it.

I found myself constantly trying to check it.

No phone to take a pic at Kendall's game. No KHSAA app to see when Breathitt played another team. Kami mentioned an app and I said, "I'll have to download that."... except I couldn't.

This morning no way to search for the Bible verse that was running through my head but I couldn't remember the exact wording or location.

No way to check on the Steelers or the Bills score to see if we would be going to the playoffs.

No way to text anyone or call to check on anyone.

I've felt disconnected.

Out of sorts.

But it has also made me think of how dependent we are on those little metal boxes.

Too often I've just shot off a text message because I don't like to call people.  That's a disconnect in itself from communication.

I've often been too worried about getting a pic of something instead of enjoying the moment I'm actually living. Disconnected from life.

Too busy scrolling through facebook to listen to what the person sitting across from me is saying. Disconnect from relationship.

So while I'll be visiting the phone store as soon as I can tomorrow to see about getting a replacement, I'm also thinking about limit setting.

Because while my phone should be a tool to connect me to those around me, it shouldn't hinder me from those connections.

And I should be able to breathe easily, even if it isn't working...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

On Purpose

Grace. Be. Love.
These three words have guided me the last three years.

I chose grace because I wanted to learn to appreciate the grace that had been given me. In 2013, changes in our lives made me realize that it was really about me learning to give grace, instead.

I chose be because I am a doer, a list maker, a planner, and I wanted to learn to be still and trust in God... to know that He was God. When my Grandma Na died unexpectedly on January 4, 2014, I learned just what it meant to just be. To allow Him to hold me up. To appreciate the moment.

I chose love because I'm not great at it. I struggle with loving others as we are told to do so in 1 Corinthians 13.  I often pout, I am haughty, I am selfish, I am jealous... pretty much the antithesis of love... yet Jesus says that we are to love Him and to love others as we do ourselves. Last year was a year of discovering what that meant. It meant that I often had to try to empathize with others... and while I was far from perfect, I truly believe that love was cultivated throughout the year. More importantly, I learned to love myself for me.

So as I contemplated what word I needed to focus on for the coming year, I thought about my weaknesses. I have plenty of them. One word popped in my mind: discipline. I don't have much discipline...

but I still didn't think that it was what I ultimately needed to focus on.

One question I find myself using to frame my life- What am I supposed to be doing? What is my purpose?

And it hit me... that's my word.


I want to live a life of purpose. Purpose can go hand in hand with discipline because purpose as a verb means essentially to decide what you aim to do and then go for it with all of your heart. I want to live a life on purpose, intentionally looking to honor God's will for my life.

I don't want to waste a minute, even though I've been doing exactly that over the last few years.

Webster's Dictionary defines purpose as "the reason why something is done or used : the aim or intention of something."

That's how I want to live... so that my actions fulfill some kind of reason.

Not my reason.

But God's reason.
I know part of that deals with loving others. Being a light. Being thankful.

Today, as I was reading my first day of my Chronological Bible reading, I saw that part of my purpose as a wife is to be a helper. I'm not always the best at that.

I know that He has other things planned for me... other reasons that I'm here... so as I dive into His Word, that's one thing I'll be asking Him to show me.

A purpose also means a resolution. I want to resolve to be His.  Resolve to do His will. Resolve to stand firm in the faith.

Doing something on purpose means to act intentionally. This means planning. Not just wiling away hours doing absolutely nothing, which I like to do a lot of the time.

I wanted a verse to help guide me, so I looked through my Bible's concordance. Surprisingly, I didn't see that word listed much. I googled Bible verses with purpose and there were lots that came up talking about God's purpose for your life. I'll be planning on looking some of those up over the year. I did see one that seemed fitting, though, but it kind of scared me...

because it's God talking through Moses to Pharaoh.

Not exactly the person you want to be like... the one that hardened his heart to what God was trying to do...

BUT he hardened his heart because that's what God wanted him to do.

Because, according to Exodus 9:16, we all have a purpose.

And Pharaoh was allowed to live to serve his purpose, even if he wasn't serving God's.

And even though I never want my heart to be hardened, I do want to fulfill a similar purpose as God voiced to Pharaoh.

"However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth. "- HCSB

I want to allow God's power to be shown to me in my life, and to others through me. I want to make His name known throughout all of my influence.

I'm reminded of the verse in Esther, where Mordacai tells her that maybe she was born for "such a time as this."

I'm born for this time, this place, this circumstance... may I show His power and make His known as I fulfill my unique purpose and calling on this earth.


Friday, January 1, 2016

2016: A Year of Purpose

Ah... the New Year.
A blank page.
A new beginning.
A new year.

Even though on January 1st I wake up the same person that I was when my head hit the pillow, it's different.

There's always the mindset that it could be different. That life could look different. That I could be different.

Except maybe that's not always a good thing. Right now, I'm pretty much content. I have a good life. A good husband and the best kid. A good job. A house and a car and material blessings.

Most of all, though, I've learned WHO I am. 

The daughter of the most high. Chosen. Loved. Created for a purpose.

So, as I ring in 2016, I'm not just focusing on the opportunities it offers, although I plan to seize each and every one. I've reflected back on where I've come from, thought about what I want, and am going to live each day for what it is.

Deeply breathing in that moment.

But... since it's a new year, I can't help but set some goals... because that's what girls who love to do lists do.
My 16 for 2016:
1. Live with Purpose- intentionally. Looking for what God's will for me is every minute of my life... or most minutes, anyway. Some people choose words instead of doing resolutions, and the word that will frame my year is purpose. If I choose to live with His purpose for me in mind, it will guide every other action of my year.  I often say I'm not sure what my purpose is... so I'm open for Him to show me. I do know it centers on love... loving Him and loving others. I also believe it is about bringing Him glory in all I do. Proclaiming His name and demonstrating His power. And making every single moment count.

2. Exercise- At least five days a week, 30 minutes a day, and at least 10,000 steps 26/30 days or 27/31 days of each month (24/28 days in February). (Because nobody is perfect).

3. 1,000 Gifts- Gratitude Journal
I started trying to write down three things every day a couple of years ago, and while I've failed often, I have managed to make up for them on other days. If you have a heart full of gratitude, it just makes life better.

4. Scripture-
In November and December of 2015, I stumbled along scripture writing plans at the above website. These take about 15 minutes a day, but you write the Word out in a notebook or journal. Just another way of thinking on His Word. I'm not sure I'll follow this plan every month (in fact, I found one that focuses on verses related to prayer for January at another site that I'm planning to use), but I do love the idea of writing His Word every day.

5. 365 Day Challenges- One picture a day and writing at least 10 minutes each day. One of my facebook friends developed a challenge and we even have our own hashtag- #write365. Y'all that follow my blog know how difficult this may be for me... but I'm willing to give it a try.

6. Reading Challenge-
This calls for you to read as many as 104 books, but my goal, as it was last year, is 125 books. I do plan to use this as a guide to get me reading something that maybe I wouldn't have otherwise. I've been browsing on amazon trying to find books that meet the first 13 books. I also hope to complete four in-depth Bible studies- Breathe, Jeremiah, Open Your Bible, Armor of God (even though I started this one Dec. 28th it'll count for this year).

7. I am going to read through the Chronological Bible. I am going to. No ands, if, buts, about it. Before I lay my head on my pillow each night, I plan to read using the plan provided in the back of my Bible.

8. Look up one word a day from an online dictionary site. Because everybody needs to know a random word.

9. Random/Unrandom Acts of Kindness- including writing notes to others.  I wrote down random and unrandom acts of kindness, because while it's nice to surprise a stranger with something random, I often do things that I choose to do for people that I love. The important thing here is to live selflessly (as much as possible) and to try to make somebody's life a little better.

10. Presence- spend time with those I love, intentionally. Caleb. Wallace. My grandparents. My sisters. My in-laws. My niece and nephew.

11. Cross something off of my bucket list.
I'm not sure what. I'm leaning toward learning Spanish. I plan to finish that DNP this summer. Maybe I'll even run a 5K.

12. Be more organized. Procrastinate less. Fold the laundry as I get it out of the dryer and actually put it away =)
(I have a looonng way to go on this one... but that's why we have all year, right?)

13. Laugh. Everyday.  Hard.
Because laughter is truly good for the soul.

14. Keep a Sabbath day of rest.
Sundays are for napping and football and reading and God's Word. I need to create this margin in my life. If I'm going to make myself be more disciplined in other areas, I need this time to allow my soul to breathe.

15. Make new friends. Make time for old ones.
I'm an introvert. I don't make friends easily. I've allowed myself to not cherish those that I do have, so this year I'm committing to being open to new friendships by showing myself friendly, and trying to rekindle some of those past friendships... because everybody needs a friend.

16. Continue to love. Love Jesus. Love myself. Love others.
Living out my values: Be Yourself. Laugh Often. Live well. Love long. Just breathe. Work it out. Finish Strong. Hope always. Give grace. Positive Thinking. Jeremiah 29:11. Romans 8

And remembering that it's Him that writes my story. He's the author and finisher of my faith, and His plan is perfect. Lord, help me surrender this blank space to You. You're great at making masterpieces out of messes. May 2016 be made a masterpiece for You.