Sunday, July 14, 2019

What I Read in June

1. The 7.5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
This was a suggestion from a Goodreads challenge, and one I probably never would have read otherwise. The category was a book that involved a game of sorts... and this game wasn't one I would have considered. It reminded me of the game Clue in a way... several people in a mansion, somebody gets murdered, somebody's trying to figure out who the murderer was... only the person telling the story is given 8 days in the body/mind of 8 different characters to collect the clues, and it's a race against other people. It was hard for me to follow at times, but if you like a good mystery with a surprising ending, this is a book for you. 

2. Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake
This book was free on Kindle Unlimited, and I tried to listen to it as an audiobook first but just didn't get into it. The story is great, featuring a young Southern girl, Turtle, who comes of age in the late 1970s, a time when civil rights was thought to be over... except in the South. Turtle spends her summer days carefree at the local watering hole with her brother, her cousin, and their friends, until she befriends the new girl from Sri Lanka. They are faced with the ugliness of racial division, including visits by the KKK and a tragedy that makes them look deep inside to discover who they are. This was a great read with well-developed characters, and it made me ponder just how far we have come but how far we still have to go. 

3. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabladon
This is the second book in the series with Claire and Jamie Frazier. Claire, in modern times, has a daughter and reveals the truth of her parentage. Jamie, in the 1700s in Scotland, battles for his freedom. Separated by years but not in their hearts, the two long for each other. I struggled with this one... but have to say the next in the series is much better (I'm currently reading it). Full of language and some sexual content.

4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I saw on Goodreads where this is the best selling book so far this year and I can see why. It's beautifully written. As you read the description of the marshes, you can almost taste the salt water and hear the waves lap against the shore. The main character, Kya, is heartwrenching. The mix of a love story and a murder mystery keeps you guessing. And the ending is not what you'd expect at all... the best way for books to end. Highly recommend this one!

5. Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the  Nature of God and His Love for Us by Matthew Sleeth
I got this book as a member of a launch team.  The topic fascinated me because in the last couple of years I have fallen in love with hiking and nature (except for bugs and snakes and also really hot weather...). This book takes the topic of trees and traces it through the Bible. It talks about how God uses trees in so many of the major events. It pointed out how our respiratory system mimics the root system of a tree. The author is a medical doctor and writes in a way that is easy to follow, backing up his statements with scripture. It made me think about trees in a way I never had before, and I now find myself noticing them as I read my Bible each day. A good read!

6. Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers
This is the second book in the Mary Poppins series and it was just as delightful as the first. I have to say, I can't remember really watching the movie. I did read the book about PL Travers that came out a few years ago, and found her an interesting individual. The Mary Poppins in these books wasn't quite what I had pictured in my mind from my knowledge of "Supercalifragilicous"  of "Spoonful of Sugar". I think I'll finish the series before I watch any of the movies.

I'm pitifully behind my goal for the year to finish 150 books... but I'll keep persevering!

Keep reading, friends! 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

FOMO

As I wrote yesterday, the past week has been emotional... and with high emotions come exhaustion. Add to that a trip to Lexington to get glasses, a youth group trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana (even though all I did was lounge on a float in the lazy river and try to finish the second Outlander book and sleep), and Relay For Life (even if a shortened version!) last night, and I was more than willing to have a day lounging around the house doing nothing but playing Candy Crush, reading, and catching up on Season 2 of Outlander and my Netflix list. The clouds were heavy and it spoke of rain and there's nothing quite like burrowing on the couch on a rainy day.

Caleb had to be up early for the ACT, but thankfully he's now able to drive so he got himself to Wolfe Co. He had mentioned going to the Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester when he got home, but I guess the early mornings babysitting and all of the brain power needed for the ACT convinced him that he was tired, too, because when he rolled in at Twin Cedar he had changed his mind.

I quietly breathed a sigh of relief and promptly stuck my nose back in to Claire and Jamie's world.

Then, because I'm nearing the end of the novel and my hand was getting tired from holding the book in a certain light to try to be able to see because I'm getting old (I have about 200 pages to go BUT it's almost 1000 total so I feel like I'm getting close to the end)...
Anyway, because I felt like I needed a break from reading I hopped on my computer and started scrolling on Facebook.

I ran across pictures of facebook friends at said Beer Cheese Festival, at a BBQ Festival in Lexington, at the beach, at at the Gorge, out of state, eating out...

All the usual fun things you post about on social media...

And I found myself starting in disdain at the book that I had JUST been saying I hadn't had enough time to read.

Because y'all.

Social media envy is a real thing and if we aren't careful it will destroy our lives.

I'm pretty sure that Paul wouldn't have written the verse about finding the secret to being content if he had lived in Facebook/Twitter/Instagram land... because those places are the secret to quickly becoming discontent.

I'm not saying I don't want my friends to have a good time... absolutely not! I LOVE social media and LOVE to see pictures of my friends and others enjoying life... all of their successes and all of their adventures. I know that I'll never live long enough to get to do everything that I want to do, but I can experience so many things and places vicariously through my friends.

It's just that sometimes when I see other people posting all of their great adventures, my lounging on the couch seems less than.

It's called FOMO... the Fear of Missing Out...

and we have to nip it in the bud.

I'm not saying don't pursue adventures- if you read my post the other day you know it's the complete opposite. Part of my goal this summer is to live as much as I can by getting out and doing things...

but it's also about being fully present in whatever moment we are given... not wishing I was somewhere doing something else.

So, I actually logged off the computer. I picked my book back up and ran my fingers lovingly over the worn pages...

because sometimes, the thing we need to fear missing out on is right in front of us. Quietness. Rest. Getting lost in a story.

The adventures will be waiting... and you'll be right on time.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Some Summer Reflections

This past week has been a roller coaster ride for my family.  As with any time of transition, it has me doing some reflecting... some processing... some recollecting.

My cousin Landry, the "baby" cousin, moved to Houston to start a new job.

My Uncle David died early Saturday morning from liver disease, something he had battled with for several years. . At the end, the last few hours, he worshipped along with my mom during her singing of Amazing Grace and I have no doubt that he is in Heaven with his Mom and Dad right now, struggling no more.

That very day, at 430 in the evening, my cousin Jordan married the love of his life, Samantha. It was an event we had looked forward to, and we were once again reminded of just how fragile life is, but how their is beauty in that fragility. It was a beautiful wedding, centered on the grace and blessing of God.

Tuesday brought Uncle David's funeral. As we gathered together in the funeral home, we were laughing and sharing stories, as we so often do when we are together. My Mamaw was a storyteller, and she taught us about connection. My cousin Gentry showed a video of his daughter Sawyer climbing up the changing table, and it resonated with me because I, too, was a climber.

My Mom found me on top of our upright piano one time. She walked out of the living room for literally 2 seconds into the kitchen and when she came back there I sat, swinging my legs back and forth. I was probably about Sawyer's age.

My favorite perch was on the kitchen table, though, just like a centerpiece.

I don't really remember it, but as my cousin Braylee said a couple of years ago,  I wasn't "afraid of nuffin."

My favorite reading spot a couple of summers in a row? A rock in the dried up creek by my house that was in the shape of Kentucky. I didn't think that copperheads or rattlesnakes liked to sun on rocks...

Crowds? Didn't bother me. I'd just as soon pretend I had a microphone in my hand and belt out "Tomorrow" from Annie. I even got a tip from a waitress at Disney World for my impromptu performance. The more people watching, the better.

I'm not sure when I lost that...

the ability to climb without worrying about falling.
the ability to not care who was looking at me or what they thought.
the utter fearlessness...

A couple of months ago, I was really struggling with a situation. Questioning. Looking for a way out...
and I felt like God spoke to me.
Not audibly... but in that small voice that you have to listen to really carefully to know what it was saying.
I'm pretty sure it was Him, because what that voice said was nothing I would have said to myself.
It essentially spoke up and said, "You can't keep letting fear push you away."

I would hear that message in podcasts on the way home from work... especially one by Emily Freeman, The Next Right Thing, who spoke in her calm and soothing voice about not letting fear boss you and not letting fear keep you from doing something you really wanted to do...

She basically said you could have other good reasons for not doing something, but if those reasons were being afraid of the what ifs... or the what nots... it wasn't a good enough reason.

I recently shared a meme on Facebook that spoke to where I am right now (or at least where I want ot be).  I don't own the rights to this picture, so please noone sue me (see! I'm afraid of litigation!)
So, amid the working ahead for the fall semester and working at the hospital and me forever trying to get my life under some semblance of being together... this is the summer where I do this.

Go back to laughing and basking in the sun and trying new things (except new food!) and not being afraid of taking the climb or what is hiding under the weeds on either side of the trail or if I'm doing enough or too much or whatever.

The summer before I turn 40?

A summer of adventure. Of appreciation. Of remembering what is important.

The best stories are those where the plot changes a few times... those that leave you guessing.

Here's to living that kind of life.

Monday, June 3, 2019

What I Read in April and May

What I read- not nearly enough!
But I did wind up a semester and do some hiking and got the boat in the lake for the first and second time this year and spent some time in my kayak and played bubbles with Melody...
so I'm giving myself grace because I've been busy living. I'll read as I can =)

1. A Light in the Dark by Maria K. Benjamin
This was a book I got through netgalley, and it was a good read. A fictional account of a sexual assault victim and how she found her way back to herself, it was a difficult read at times, but well worth it. The characters were well developed and believable, and I found myself hoping she could come to terms with her experience and learn to love again. 

2. Yes, No, and Maybe by Wendy Pope
This was a book we did with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies, and I finished it late. It was all about learning to say yes to God, no to self, and maybe to good opportunities as they present themselves. Pope writes in personable voice, encouraging us to live the immeasurably more life. Full of Scripture, discussion questions, and thought-provoking quotes, I appreciated this book at the end of the semester as I question what truly is most important.

3. Bon Bon to Yoga Pants by Katie Cross
This book is about weight loss- but so much more. It's funny, sweet, and encouraging, as the main character,  Lexie, learns to love herself in her own skin. Highly recommend for someone looking for a short, easy read.

4. Educated by Tara Westover
In this memoir, Westover tells of her life as the daughter of survivalists. Her dad didn't believe in formal education, governmental interference, or healthcare, so she faced many difficulties throughout her childhood. She self-taught herself, went to college, and along the way discovered just what being educated meant. At times hard to read because of the heart-wrenching content, this book was a great reminder of how we can all do what we determine is necessary. Highly recommend!

5. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
I was leary to read this because how can you improve on the Wizard of Oz (although I had never read the book until this year- see below!) However, Caleb wanted to see the musical and y'all know I can't see something without reading it first... we've still not watched the musical but it's on our bucket list. I've got to be honest with this one. It was a hard read. There was some very lewd content and language, and I found some parts distasteful. If you can get past that, it's an ok read. (And that's just my opinion!)

6. From the Grave: A 40 Day Lent Devotional by A. W. Tozer
Loved this book. Brief devotions for each day of Lent based on the writings of Tozer.

7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Yes, I had never read this one until this year! It was a bonus feature in my Wicked e-book, and a quick book but delightful.

8. Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days by Trevor Hudson
This was another great read for Lent. Short devotions, thoughtful actions centering around one word a day.

9. And The Angels Were Silent by Max Lucado
I love Lucado, and the way he writes a story in every word on the page. This book was fitting for Easter time, working through the events Jesus faced the last week of His life. Loved it!

10. Preparing for Easter by C.S.Lewis
This devotional pulled writings from Lewis for each day. Entries were short and easy to read, and also easy to apply. 

May:
1. Plowshare in Heaven by Jesse Stuart
A series of short stories centered on Northeastern Kentucky. I love that I understand Stuart's language and can picture some of the places he describes. Part of my #ExploreKy initiative, I'm reading Kentucky authors, so I"m sure Stuart will show up again.

2. Keep Showing Up by Karen Ehman
We read this for Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies, and I actually finished on time for this one! Ehman is such a talented author. She writes in a way that draws her reader in, and she provides sound Biblical basis for her ideas, as well as practical ways to apply the content. This book is focused on "average marriages", and is chock full of ideas to keep showing up and loving your hubby. Definitely recommend this one if you are married or if you're thinking of getting married.

3. Women of the Word by JenWilkin
Wilkin is an awesome Bible teacher who encourages her students to dig into the Word for themselves, learning what is actually there instead of having some one just "spoonfeed" it to them. This book gives tips and a process to really study God's Word so that it can be understood and applied. Highly recommend this for any student of the Bible- young or old!

4. Until I say Goodbye by Susan Spencer-Wendel
Spencer-Wendel was an investigative journalist who had a great life until she was diagnosed with ALS. She decided she wasn't going to take the disease without fighting, so she went on a "bucket list" type of final year. This book is about her life, her adventures, her family, and what she learned along the way. The latter part of this book was TYPED WITH HER NOSE, Y'ALL!!! Sadly, she passed away in 2014, but this story is a good reminder to live each day fully. Loved it!

5. Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale
Part love story, part mystery, this book has well-developed characters, enough suspense to keep you guessing... and anytime one of the main characters turns out to have amnesia you know it's going to be good, right? Aimee has the perfect relationship until her fiance disappears. She has been told he is dead; even attends a funeral the day that should have been married, but something tells her it's not the truth. Her search then reveals a twisting, winding road of family intrigue, jealousy, and love that keeps the reader flipping the page. I recommend this one if you like a good, fast read with suspense. I just started the second one in this series.

6. Trust Me by Jo Huddleston
This is the second book in this series. I found the first book a little dull and this one was slightly better. The plot was choppy in places and the dialogue was hard to read at times. A short read set in West Virginia, it's a sweet story but can't say I'd really recommend it.

7. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This book follows the Ingalls family through-you guessed it! A long winter, complete with numerous blizzards and times when they surely thought they'd starve. I love this series and am sad there's only a couple more books for me to read.

I'm way behind my goal so I'm going to stop typing and get to reading. Check back next month for my June reads. I need to finish 17 books to get myself back on track! As always, I'd love to see what's on your list, even though my to read list is a mile long! 




Friday, May 31, 2019

What I Learned This Spring (March-May)

It's unofficially summertime, meaning it's time for me to once again pretend to maintain a writing schedule on this blog. One of my favorite posts to write (when I don't forget!) is the linkup with Emily Freeman quarterly about what I've learned. Here lately, here's what I've discovered (or rediscovered): 
1. Audiobooks vs. podcasts
When I'm working, I commute about 1.5 hours to and from work, and that could very easily be wasted time. One thing I decided to try toward the end of the semester was audiobooks and podcasts. I've always resisted audiobooks, and I found that the one that I listened to didn't do much for my analysis of them... however, I've been assured by other people that it's all about the book and the reader.
I did, however, learn that I love podcasts. There are so many good ones out there. Somedays I'm in the mood for something light, some days for something about reading, somedays for random topics that I really don't know anything about... but I can guarantee that there is a podcast out there on the topic. They definitely made my drive seem shorter!

2. Enneagram- I've always been interested in what makes people tick. I love personality tests, and I'm amazed by how we can all be so different. I heard about this on a podcast, and immediately took a test. I found that I was a 9... and I'm still not sure exactly what that is... so I bought a couple of books and by the end of the summer I'll know all about it =)

3. You can like an email in outlook- Who knew? One of my students had sent me an email, and I had replied, and then got a notification that the student had responded to my email but couldn't see a reply... but it was a like!! I"m not sure what the purpose really is except to let someone know you read their reply without carrying on an extensive conversation, but it reminded me just how much I don't know about technology.

4. Teenage drivers
Caleb got his license three weeks ago and to say I've been slightly terrified is an understatement. You don't know fear until you send your baby off behind a wheel...
I'm learning, though, that he has a pretty good head on his shoulder and that letting go really is part of parenting.

5.  8 miles is about my limit when it comes to hiking. The past couple of weeks I've done two 10 mile hikes and my feet are still killing me. My body starts giving up at 8 miles...
but when you are two miles from the middle of nowhere (or possibly more... who knows?) you have to keep on going.

6. Hiking apps are your friend. They can make sure you stay on track so you don't hike off trail 10 miles. Since I don't have much of a sense of direction, that's a very good thing.

7. I love summertime.

Linking up with Emily Freeman at https://emilypfreeman.com/blog/ and getting myself geared up to write more this summer... thanks for the inspiration!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Shut Up & Write Day 1- Jibba Jabba

Heart fluttering, short of breath, overwhelmed, anxious
It is Monday
Not sure why I'm like this.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop, just waiting,
Cause it's Monday
but...

Every day is new with new mercies
He is God
everyday, not just Monday, and He is sovereign.
Cast my cares
He cares.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

What I Read February/March edition

February: 
The Color of Forever by Julianne MacLean- The Color of Heaven #10
I started this series several years ago. The books can be read independently, but characters from previous books are interwoven throughout so if you read I'd recommend reading in order. They talk about life after death, finding love on earth, and have some components of fantasy involved. Quick reads with likeable characters.  There are other books in this series so I'll be reading for a while.

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
I enjoyed this book, but it was hard to read at times. It centered on how God is holy, using Scriptural references, and then encourages us to be holy as God is holy. An overwhelming concept for sure, but very thought-provoking.

Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs- Friday Night Knitting Club #3
Loved this series! This follows a group of women who bonded over knitting, and then over a friend's death as they became family to that friend's young daughter. The last book in the series focuses on Dakota's transition to adulthood and the decisions she has to make. Great read!

Always Forward- Ginny Dye- Bregdan Chronicles #9
I've been reading this series, set in the Civil War and the years following, for several years. It tells the story of Carrie Borden and how she and her family overcame in the years following the Civil War. Carrie is a strong female character and is a polar opposite to my other favorite Civil War heroine (Scarlett O'Hara). There are other books in this series as well so I'll be reading on it for awhile.

Christ-Centered Parenting
This was a Bible study through Lifeway. They offered it as online Bible study several months ago and provided the video sessions free, so I watched those and took a little longer to digest. This book has short articles that focus on societal topics that parents should address. Good for parents with kids of all ages, as each section has a couple of pages focused on communication strategies for different age groups. Really thought-provoking. 

The Scarlet Letter- Nathaniel Hawthorne
I had read this book many years ago in high school but decided to revisit it. The language is hard to understand but it is a beautiful concept of redemption, and also a reminder that there are always two sides to ever story.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader- CS Lewis
This is part of the Chronicles of Narnia series. It was one of the harder ones for me to read for some reason, but the fantastical story of a boy turning into a dragon and then not being recognized as a boy (not the exact story line, but the part that stood out to me most) really made me think of how we perceive other people. I love the beautiful images of Aslan, and the reminder that God is always sovereign (as they say in the first book in this series, He is far from safe, but He is good.)

Summer People- Aaron Stander
This was a free book I downloaded years ago. I have a list of books I've downloaded from Kindle and I work through it (when I'm not jumping ahead and reading a "got to read now" book), and the second book on this series was on my list, so I had to read the first one, of course... a murder mystery. Easy read. Good characters. Not the best book I've read... but definitely not the worst. 

4  under my goal... putting me behind. (I figured if I wanted to read 150 books this year, I'd need to read 12.5 a month).

March:
Dumplin' (Dumplin' #1)- I LOVED this book. I downloaded it and moved it to the front of my to read list because EVERYONE was watching it on Netflix and I can't watch something without reading it... and it was great. A lovely story of Willowdean, whose Mama is a beauty queen that reminds her a lot of times that she's not... a feel good, save the day story. (Which was, as always, better than the movie... but the Netflix movie was good. Although I've always liked Jennifer Aniston and I really didn't like her character...) Definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to learn how to accept themselves for who they are.

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper
This book highlighted the glory of God, using references from Scripture. Really enjoyed it but makes you think!

The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman
I love midwives. I mean, I've never been to one, and I obviously am not one, but I have worked with them and then the history of Frontier Nursing in Eastern Kentucky has always fascinated me. This book is about a midwife who has a patient die during childbirth, and she flees her life to travel to a remote island. A little suspense, a little romance... a very good novel. I'll be reading more from this author!

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell
Millie has had a tough life. Her dad and mom have a dysfunctional relationship. She wants to get away. She dreams of joining a gypsy group, but tragedy strikes and she finds herself stuck. It's a beautiful story of a young girl finding herself and finding love. There's a second book, so I'll be reading it.

Darker the Night by Lisa London
I love WW2 fiction. This book is one from the viewpoint of a German citizen. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the end of the book to learn that it was loosely based on real-life events. This book encouraged empathy. Highly recommend for anyone interested in WW2 fiction.

Devil's Food Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen #14) by Joanne Fluke
I love this series. Hannah Swensen is funny, and also unlucky, as she finds more dead bodies than living people in Lake Eden. The recipes sound yummy (if only I cooked!) and each one of these in the series that I have read are entertaining, with interesting characters. Still have several in this series, and I'm glad!

The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew #2)
I loved Nancy Drew when I was a young reader, and last year I decided to start re-reading the series. It's funny, though, that reading them with fresh eyes makes you realize how much different things are now from when they were first written years ago. They do seem simplistic, too... but still one of my favorites!

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
My sister bought my a book called 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, and this book was the first one listed. I loved it. The author was a camp ranger in a park out west, and it was all about the desert and exploring and the outdoors and it spoke to my hiking loving heart.

Dearest Dorothy, If not Now, When? 
This book is a part of a series as well, and I was sad to find that there wasn't another book. Dorothy is an 80+ year old woman who lives in small town America. One of her newest best friends is Josh, whose Mom has moved in and sent an erroneous message that she's trying to take over the town. As most small towns are, residents are resistant to some change, and this book follows them through the process of growth. A great read with delightful characters. 

Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott
Again, this was a series that I read when I was young. I love Louisa May Alcott... have read biographies of her. Little Women is one of my favorite books, and this is the last series of the book, concluding when the little women are now adults. Jo has started a college for young men and some women, and this book tells of some of her earlier pupils and how their adult lives have turned out.
 

When God Calls the Heart: Devotions from Hope Valley
This devotional uses shows from When Calls the Heart to provide a short devotional topic. There's a prayer and a question to think about, and I really liked it because I liked the show.

11 books read in March. This means I've read 31 books. Using my plan to read 12.5 books a month, I should have read 37 books, so I'm 6 short.

Means I'll have to read 13 books a month... so here's to reading!

As always, I'd love to here what's on your to read list, even though I never have enough time to read as I'd like!


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Just a Student Nurse

On Tuesday of this week my Fundamentals of Nursing class covered legal and ethical concepts of nursing.

There's a lot to think about in those areas, hot topics that cover our newsfeed.

We were talking about student nurses and their role in patient care and I heard myself say something that has resonated with me, "You may be just a student nurse today..."

I went on to remind them that they are the future of our profession, and that they are held to the same ethical standards as anyone involved in patient care.

Those four words have ran through my mind, though... "Just a student nurse..."

You may be just...

but you are so much more.

I see you, single Mama, juggling school work and family time and holding it all together with tattered strings.

I see you, hardworking senior who is striving to learn all you can in your practicum because before you know it, you'll be the sole responsible one.

I see you, college kid who is living on your own for the first time, tasting the independence that means that you don't have to get up for your 8 AM class but knowing that the major you  have chosen means life or death for those you will be caring for, so you turn the snooze button off, throw your hair into a ponytail, and drag yourself onto the bus.

I see you, working those extra shifts as a server or a clerk or a patient tech because your scholarship doesn't quite cover all of your cost of living.

I see you, reading those chapters that seem like they are 500 pages long...

I see you, blurry eyed as you struggle to take one more note, answer one more question, jot down one more flashcard.

I see you as you submit that care plan.. words on a page that in no way fully represent the thinking, and dare I say it, blood, sweat and tears that went into developing it? (Maybe not blood or sweat, but definitely some tears.)

I see you as you enter your patient's room the first day of clinical, scared to speak but so very excited, uniform pressed and stethoscope ready.

I see you holding your patient's hand and taking time to listen because compassion is what draws you in to this profession.

I see you, lips moving silently as you read through the options for that select all that applies question, racking your brain and trying to fight the urge to not listen to your gut because every answer can have a rationale and the right answer isn't always the best answer.

I see you...

so much more than just a student nurse.

Even if I don't always share it, I'm cheering you on.

There will be struggles. There will be failures- maybe of whole courses. There will be days when you question your commitment...

and I'd like to tell you that it gets easier, but really it doesn't, because that doubt, that failure, that sense of being overwhelmed will follow you as you scurry up and down hallways, going door to door making your hourly rounds on your patients.

You'll look back on those days, sometimes, and wish that you could be "just a student nurse"... but then you'll straighten your namebadge, plaster a smile on your face, and answer that call light...

because you were born for this. And someday you may hear the phrase expanded, "I'm just a nurse"... as opposed to something more full of grandeur...

But you're a lifeline to your patient. A smile when there is none. Sunshine in the dark days of gloomy diagnosis. Comfort when the patient is overwhelmed. An anchor in a story sea.

"Nursing is an art,  and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit?..." Florence Nightingale

Just a student nurse... learning what will have eternal impact.

How blessed am I to have just a small part of it?

Writing this today based on a prompt from Five Minute Fridays (even though I am not writing on Friday and also even though it took me longer to write than 5 minutes). This week's prompt? JUST....
four words that can be seen as condescending but in no way tell the full story.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Get in the Word

Today I saw a post on Facebook that made me think.

It was a photo that showed the amount of time it would take a person to read through the Bible in certain lengths of time. In order to read through in a year, it estimated reading 12 minutes a day.

It usually takes me a little longer to read the portions of Scripture aligned in my reading plan, but I'll admit I sometimes get distracted and I also pause to take notes sometimes. I'll admit that sometimes it becomes another thing on my "to do" list... and I don't want it to be that for me. I want it to mean something... because I know that His Word is living and active.

As I read, I ask that God open my heart, my eyes, and my ears to what He wants to show me. With some books of the Bible, that's easy. I understand about being foolish when I read the Proverbs. I get David's cries of solitude when I read the Psalms. I soak in as I read about Jesus and His miracles...

but the Old Testament is tough, y'all.

I don't get a lot of it.

But I'm reminded that when we are in His Word, it gets in us... and things happen. Things become clear. And the Scripture you read today will show up somewhere else tomorrow.

It may take you longer than a year to read your Bible through. That's ok. There are lots of different reading plans out there.

The key is to open it, read it, and internalize it... even if it is just one verse at a time.

Thank You, God, for Your Word to me. Thank You for Your Word, Jesus, who became flesh. Thank You for Your revelation. I may not always get it... but I know that You are faithful and You are doing a work even when I don't understand.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Surviving

So one of my goals this month was to write every day.

It's a short month, so surely that won't be too hard, right?

Except that sometimes by the time I get home, I'm mentally exhausted. I can't string two words together some nights.

As I was walking on the treadmill tonight, I found myself thinking I am 99.9% done with this week... but it's only Tuesday.

Fitting that as I thought about what to write about, and couldn't find any inspiration, I turned to the 5 minute writing prompts developed for this challenge.

Today's prompt?

Survive...

Which is what I do most days.

Just barely.

Except I can't help but think that it's supposed to be more than that.

As I thought about being 99.9% done with this week, I thought of having a glass half full mindset...

which so often I don't have. I tend to look on the negative side, even though I'd love to be a Pollyanna (and let's be realistic. I'm not even sure why Pollyanna is known for her positivity. I've never read the book nor watched the movie...)

So I kept putting one foot in front of the other on the treadmill...

and realized that tomorrow is another day (just like Scarlett says. I have read that book, and am reading it again...)

So here's to doing more than just surviving tomorrow...

and I'll go fumble my way through Leviticus in my Bible reading tonight... but I'll survive =)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Grace for Granted

Several years ago I chose the word "grace" to guide my year. I wanted to embrace the grace that God gave me... as if that is something we can ever fully do.

Instead, it was a year of transition for my family, and I found that the real reason God had led me to choose the word was a reminder for me to give grace...

As one of our P31 OBS values says, "We give grace because we so desperately need it."

Today I was reading The Holiness of God by RC Sproul. This quote hit me hard, because I don't tink I had ever really thought about it.

"Grace no longer amazes us. We have grown used to it: we take it for granted."


In a watered down society, we are told that God is love and that His mercy endures forever.

Biblical, yes... but also hard to reconcile with a God of judgment. Sproul talked about the seemingly inconsistencies between the Old Testament God and the New Testament God.

How can a God that hurls fire and brimstone be a loving God?

Surely we should focus on the God of love and forgiveness... so much that we get caught in an endless cycle of doing the same thing over and over. We praise Him with our lips on Sunday morning, yet curse our brothers and sisters by the time we are headed home.

Grace is to be given to us... but we aren't so good at giving it. Surprisingly, we aren't great at accepting it, either... because if we truly accepted God's grace, we would be in awe of His goodness. We wouldn't treat it so casually.

May I never grow used to Your grace, God. May I embrace it so that it changes me. May I embrace it so it changes others. I don't deserve it, but Your mercy gives me so much that I don't deserve. Thank You is not enough...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Haiku

If you know anything about me at all, you know I love to read.

I read many books at a time. I switch back and forth between different ones. I've rarely picked up a book that I couldn't find something good to say about...

because reading is an extension of who I am.

I read all kinds of genres- fiction, nonfiction, history, biography, Christian, classics...

but a couple of  genre I've always struggled with- poetry and drama.

I loved Emily Dickinson growing up, and still do enjoy reading some of her poems, especially I"m Nobody, Who are You... because can anything speak quite so perfectly to how we feel sometimes??

I have recently discovered in my exploration of all things Kentucky Wendell Berry- who writes fiction and nonfiction and also poetry, and I'm learning to like his poems.

I can't remember from high school all the different types of poetry, and odd literature terms stick in my head (like iambic pentameter and onomotopeia... although I'm not sure I can tell you if the spelling of them or what their exact meaning is...)

So, since I'm learning to like poetry, I thought I'd try my hand at writing a poem or two in this space...

 Rain drips down slowly.
Drip, drip, drop on my window
Will it ever end? No....

There you have it... my haiku, which according to a website is three lines, 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, 5 in the last.

And very reflective of my mood...

Sunshine where are you
I need you to come out, please
I don't like winter rain.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

One 24 Hours

This morning we woke up to a blanket of white, the kind of snow that makes the world turn into a winter wonderland.

Even though I don't like winter, I do like those types of snow, especially before the cars hit the road and it turns into muddy slush. 

By noon, the sun was shining full force and the sky was blue and the snow was melting.

I should have gone for a brisk walk outside. After all, I am the one that complains when it rains 500 days in a row about how the lack of sunshine affects my mood...

but I opted for a nap, which I am sure will end up being a bad idea as my sleep schedule is already off and I have to get up at 5 AM to go to work.

I woke up grumpy, as I often do from naps.

I was reminded again about how I am responsible for my own attitude. I had let something bother me and it festered like a splinter under my skin.

Have you ever been there? Something somebody says just keeps popping up over and over, and just as you forget about it, it's there in the back of your mind, until you start to focus more on their opinion than what you know to be fact.

In our world of offense and bullying, I am convinced that there is no greater bully than an adult. Often the people who spout about other people bullying are the ones with the plank in their own eye.

As I'm typing this, I'm reminding myself that I can't let things get to me..only I am responsible for my reaction. I can't change the actions of others. I can't really change the opinions of others.... and quite frankly, they don't matter anyhow.

I CAN change my reaction. You can, too. And remember, we only get this 24 hours one time. We may have another 24 hours tomorrow, but it won't be the same.

Don't waste it allowing someone else to have power over your attitude.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Confident of This...

I am often unsure of things in life.

Unsure of my abilities.

Unsure of my next move.

Unsure of what God's purpose is in my life.

Unsure of myself.

It's especially true when I focus on my own abilities, because I can do so little by myself.

I wonder if those in the Bible ever felt unsure...

I mean, we know Moses didn't feel adequate enough to lead the Israelites. He was full of excuses about being slow to speak.

and Gideon argued with the angel that he was from the least tribe, and that he was the least of his father's house.

And surely the disciples felt unsure of themselves, as they fell asleep in the garden when they were supposed to be praying.

But what about the giants of faith- Joseph and David and Peter and Paul?

Did they struggle with self-doubt?

Paul admits he was the chief sinner.

Let that sink in... even as he preached the good news, he knew where he had come from.

We aren't caught in our past, nor do we have to dwell on it... but we can't forget where we come from.

We do know that even as Paul recognized how far he had come, he knew who empowered him. "I can do all things through Christ"... "Christ in me, the hope of glory..."

And this, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

We may not be confident today... but we can be sure that even in our mess, He's perfecting His masterpiece.

Writing today using the prompt from Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes unedited on one word. Today's prompt? Confident.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love in Any Language

Love is a funny word.

On today, Valentine's day, it is usually said romantically...

but I also say, "I love books. I love reading. I love the sunshine. I love chocolate."

The human language in itself is funny... because a word can have so many meanings, and when you translate it from English to another language, nuances can get lost.

For example, if you hear someone say "Amore" in a true Italian accent, it brings to mind passion... just because of the sound of the word.

We used to sing a song... not sure if it was in church or in chorus...

"Je t'aime, Te amo, Ya ti-bya lyu blyu,  Ani o hev ot cha,  I love you"

All love.

All different languages.

All with the same meaning, only slightly different.

In the Bible, there are different types of love: agape love, philos love, and eros love. Godly. Friendship. Passion.

We are called to love as God does... it's the greatest commandment- Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

That, my friends, is impossible without God.

I can't love God with everything in me without His Spirit empowering me, because too often I start thinking of my own desires.

I certainly can't love others... my neighbors and my enemies... as myself...

Let's face it. Some days I don't even love myself.

The love we are talking about here is an action.

It's not a feeling. It's a decision to keep showing up, even in the hard times.

It's a decision to turn the other cheek. To forgive. To be patient and kind and not hold records of wrongs...

while inside we are screaming to hold a grudge.

Love isn't something we feel...

and it has to be something we celebrate more than once a year.

It's a minute by minute action.

And Biblical love, modeled by Jesus Christ, means putting our life on the line for others.

For those we love with eros love- full of passion.
For those we love with philos love- full of friendship.
Even for those who seem so different from us, those we would never want to love... maybe that's the ones we are called to love the most.

No matter how you say it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Free to Be Me

Today as I was watching the news the weatherman was giving rain totals for this year- almost 8 inches.

Almost double of what we had had by this time last year- and 2018 was a record year for rain.

I feel like a duck, except that I wasn't made for this weather.

Today, though, was a beautiful sunshiny day- until you stepped out the door and the wind cut you in two.

So many things aren't what they seem...

including people.

I think so often we believe we have to put on a brave face... a mask to hide our feelings because we're taught to "suck it up" and "keep pushing on".

I read a quote from The Scarlet Letter that struck me today. The Reverend is hiding the dirty secret that he is actually the father of Pearl, a child born out of wedlock. Her mother has been publicly humiliated for adultery and forced to bear the shame of her sin by a scarlett "A" embroidered on her chest. He has lived with the secret for years, until he can no longer. “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

So often we live with the mask that we forget what the truth is.

I've been there- and self-deceit is the worst kind.

As I've been focusing on the word "seek" this year, I've been seeking God- but also seeking myself.

That may seem contradictory, but really it's not, because by seeking God I'm learning who I am... really am... in Him. I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not.

Because in Him, I am all I need to be. As Francesca Battestelli sang several years ago, "I'm free to be me."

Dents in the fender... wholly trying to be Holy through Him but often not getting it right.
Trying to hold the pieces together but realizing that there is no duct tape for life.

Perfectly imperfect because He who created me is perfection enough.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Winter

Wind blowing cold through the trees howls in my ear.

A voice, barely audible, whispers, and I strain to hear it.

Wind blows cold and snow is coming now...

small, white, flakes...

floating

flitting

flying through the air.

Winter has it's own music

but I find it like the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

Rain, rain, go away, but don't turn into snow and ice.

Wind howling, biting as it cuts like a knife against my cheeks.

I lose my breath, huddled against the pain of the days without sunshine.

Spring will come.

My heart knows it full well, even as I question it in the seemingly never-ending chill.

And the wind howls, and the snow flies...

Oblivious to my desires.



Monday, February 11, 2019

Head. Heart. Hands.

I love it when God brings up the same message over and over again.

Not as good as the flashing light I'm often wishing for, but definitely a reminder of "Hey, I'm here. I see you and I know you."

As I wrote this weekend, I attended a woman's conference and was reminded (once again... I'm a slow learner, y'all...) that I can't change myself. No matter how many miles I walk and books I read and Bible verses I skim through, I can't change my heart.

Only God can do that.

And in order for me to grow closer to Him, I have to allow my heart to be transformed. It's not about behavior modification...

Tonight, in Bible study we were going through the video session for 1 Peter. Jen Wilkin was dissecting the the passage verse by verse, and she made a statement that was another "A-ha" moment... although not really, because it was the same A-ha moment I had on Saturday.

She said, "Head. Heart. Hands."

As in, what we do is the last thing that will reflect our walk with God... the last thing we should emphasize.

That's not saying we don't need to change our behaviors. Jesus told the woman I talked about yesterday to "Go and sin no more." Paul talks about how if we know something isn't right and we continue to do it we have sinned, just as if we know that something is right and we don't act we sin.

As Julius says in Remember the Titans, "Action reflects leadership, Captain..." although my action doesn't really reflect God's leadership, because He's going to be in charge no matter what and we know He's good... but if I'm the only Jesus somebody sees, is that going to make a good impression?

Wilkin started with verse 13 and talked about preparing your mind first. We have to know in our mind our battle plan, because we have an enemy that throws out all the tricks. We have to "gird up" as if we are going to battle... because we are. A battle for our lives, with eternal implications. We have to set our hope fully on the promise of the grace of Jesus Christ. Without Him, we have no hope!

Next, we have to put away the passions of our ignorance... passions representing the heart. Ignorance because the heart is deceitful. Our feelings can't always be trusted, y'all! Case in point- on this dreary Monday, I wanted to do nothing but climb in the bed when I got home. I didn't feel like walking on the treadmill... but I sure felt better once I did.  We have to be holy as He is holy... a tall order if it was just us, but we are Spirit infused and with Him all things are possible!

We are to live in awe of the wonders of God... because He is wonderful. He is awe-inspiring. When you stop and consider Who He is and Who we are... and that He still loved us... wow. Just wow.

Lastly, we have a final commandment... love the brothers. (and sisters). Love...

just as Jesus told us.

Not changing our behaviors... but changing our minds. Changing our hearts to reflect the changes in our mind. Then, allowing Him to change our behaviors, because only He can make us holy and set apart. And when those changes are made, allow them to change our actions by loving others in purity.

My prayer tonight, Father, is that You will do Your perfecting work. Change me. Use me. Guide me.
May I love You more than anything, and may my love for You spill out to others. Thank You for Your goodness, Lord. Thank You for Your Son. Thank You for Your Spirit that enables me to live and move and have my being, such as it is. Thank You for Your Word. You are awesome, and I will praise You.





Sunday, February 10, 2019

God's Handwriting

When I was a young girl I took piano lessons. I wasn't very good, and I dreaded practicing.

So much that I was somewhat happy when my Mom caught my fingers in the sliding door of the van and they were too sore to play for a couple of weeks.

And also when my Mamaw Na accidentally sliced the tip of my thumb with the scissors.

No piano! No tee-ball!

Just a ridge on the end of my thumb that reminds me of my Mamaw everytime I feel it, and a thumb that can't be used for a fingerprint on the Pyxis machine at the hospital.

We're told our fingerprints are unique to each one of us.

God has a fingerprint, too, I'd like to think. After all, we are told we are made in His image. Just as you can see when a toddler has been perched next to a window by the sticky fingerprints on the glass, God leaves His fingerprints in the world around us.

We see Him in nature, in the "coincidences" that happen.

My Pastor talked a little about the fingers of God today, when He pointed out three instances in Scripture when God actually wrote something Himself, in His own handwriting.

(I'm pretty sure that my handwriting is NOT made in the image of God's handwriting, because nobody can read it!)

The first example when God wrote something was the 10 Commandments in Exodus. Brother Kemper pointed out that in this situation, He was writing the law, because sin had abounded after the Fall and He was separated from His people. He knew they would never be able to keep the law, but they had to have a guideline in place. He had a plan for atonement, and this was shared with them... but it was temporary.

The second example was in Daniel, when King Belshezzar was partying hard using the sanctified Temple vessels. When the law is violated, there must be punishment, and that is what God wrote in this instance. The King was found wanting, and he died that very night. How frightening it must have been to sit in that banquet room and see a hand appear, letters form on the wall, and then to be told that you weren't what you needed to be.

The last example was in John 8. Again, a woman was found breaking the law... but her accusers were pious and self-righteous. Jesus stooped down and wrote something... we don't know what.

Brother Kemper said He wrote grace.

Maybe not the word exactly (although, perhaps He did!), but what was written provided grace.

It also reminded her accusers that no one is perfect. "He that is without sin, let Him cast the first stone."

Three samples of God's handwriting. Three samples of His heart. A heart that is just. A heart that is righteous. A heart full of mercy.

Lord, write Your words on my heart so that I will reflect You. Help me meditate on Your law, Your Word, Your precepts. You are good, and You are the best storyteller. Write mine so that it is worth reading.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Heart Transformation

"Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God."- 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

At the beginning of the year, I said I wasn't making any resolutions.

Instead, I set goals; habits I wanted to develop; traits I wanted to focus on to make me a "better" person.

My guiding word became "seek", leading me to ponder on seeking God and seeking myself and seeking adventure and seeking all that God has for me.

This weekend, I sat for two days at Southland Christian Church in Lexington and allowed God to pour His Word into me.

I came to a new understanding of resolutions... it's not something I can do.

Being resolved is being intentional, yes, but without God we can't be resolved.

I wish I could sum up those four sessions for you.

If you've been reading this blog at all, you know that 2018 was a rough year for my family for a number of reasons. That's one of the reasons why I chose the word seek, because I felt like I needed God more than anything.

I say it with my mouth but don't always carry it out.

It's so easy for me to get overwhelmed.

I lose heart.

I cover things with secret shame... I deceive others, but most importantly I deceive myself.

At the beginning of 2018 I tried to fix myself. I was bound and determined I was going to be intentional. I was going to chase happiness. I was going to "better" myself...

and only found myself in a desperate place by the summertime.

As Mo Isom so eloquently put it this weekend, "It can't be about behavior modification. It has to be about heart transformation."

That's hard work, though... even though the hard work has already been done by Jesus.

Heart transformation hurts.

I can check something off my to do list... and fake it till I make it with the best of it...

but a life living like that will mean I never make it.

And I don't want that. Mo said she prayed a prayer that said, "Wreck my life."

I feel like in many ways my life has been wrecked this past year. I don't say that in a way to tempt God, because He can change things in an instant, but the struggles we have went through... and just like Lysa TerKeurst talked about, my life 9 months ago was not what I had imagined...

but God.

But God in His mercy reached down to me.

God in His all-knowing sovereignty was doing the hard work.

It won't be perfect... but it will be perfecting.

It will be messy... but the best messages are.

Tonight, my prayer is for heart transformation. May God find me ever seeking Him... and may He change me because of it.

I don't want to be the same me I was this time last year... ever again.

And may my battle cry, even in the difficulties, be like King Jehosophat's, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever."


Friday, February 8, 2019

Build It One Board at a Time

The cursor on this page just keeps blinking.

Blinking across the white page... taunting.

Some days I have some great ideas.

Others, not so much.

Some weeks I read a prompt and my mind starts racing... and then others I have no idea where I'll end up... or even where to start... so I just start typing.

Letting words spill on to the page, clearing my mind.

I don't identify myself as  'writer", but writers write, so before I can become one I have to start.

One word at a time.

Each one building on the other.

Just like a building doesn't pop up overnight,some stories don't unfold by themselves.

They have to be crafted, one letter at a time.

Build it... they will come.

Write it... they will read.

And if they don't, well, at least it's out of my head.

Focusing in February on getting words on the page... some days, like today, they don't mean anything but it's the habit.

Once the habit gets in place, the meaning will come.

Today writing on what comes to mind with the one word prompt "build" provided by Five Minute Fridays. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sustained Even in Denial

This evening as I came out of work it felt like a typical spring day... only it's February!

It was sprinkling just a bit and a slight breeze was blowing and blue skies were peeping out from behind the rain clouds.

As I drove closer to home, I noticed the clouds moving out. To the right of me, on a ridge top overlooking a valley, the sun was shining through the clouds and as I've thought so many times, I thought of how Jesus will come in all of His glory and it will be so much more than our eyes can ever imagine.

Thoughts like that come and go for me. I'd like to say I'm focused on Jesus all the time, but I'd be lying. Too often I get distracted by my to do list and all of my worries and I sometimes find that a whole day has gone by and I've not spoken to Him. More importantly... I've not listened to Him. Listening to Him (or not) can truly make or back my whole day.

If I open my eyes and ears and heart He's there, though. I can see him in the smiles of other people. I see Him in the green pine needles and the blue skies and the clouds and the rain. I hear Him when the wind blows through the windchimes and I can feel Him when Melody wraps her arms around my neck.

I've often wondered how anyone can look around and deny the presence of God. How can someone believe that all of this just happened... that some cataclysmic event occurred and BOOM here we all are? I understand that science is a belief in facts and that faith isn't always based on objective facts...

and we're also told that the foolish things will confound the wise.

Tonight I was reading A Peculiar Glory by John Piper and a statement made really struck me. Piper was talking about how two people can be around the very same thing or read the same statement and get two entirely different interpretations about it. He was discussing how both Peter and Judas had been with Jesus for around 3 years, but Judas never really saw Him.

I don't want that to be me.

Piper wrote, "They are sustained by the God they deny."

See, even if you don't believe in God, it doesn't make His reality any different. Every good gift is from above...from God. As Piper writes, "God is the source of all life." All things were created by Him, for Him. We are told in Acts "In Him we live, and move, and have our being."

Tonight, my prayer is that God will open our hearts and minds and ears and eyes so that we will see Him, hear Him, but above all, know Him... because He is worthy. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Where Would I Want to Be?

So tonight, on the 6th night of the #Write28Day Challenge, I'm fresh out of inspiration.

But thankfully the internet has an answer for everything... it's called google... so I googled "Inspiring writing prompts" and found one with 30 prompts.

One of them was if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

If you had asked me this a couple of weeks ago, when temps were down in the teens, I would have said a beach. I can close my eyes and almost feel the sun beating down on my cheeks, the ocean lapping against my feet as I slouch in a beach chair with an open book in my lap.

The smell of coconut is strong from the sunblock I applied, and the grit of sand sticks to my leg from the surf.

Oh, the beach! How marvelous you are....

but then there's the mountains, too...

towering green around me, with blue skies above and the sunshine beating down.

Wherever I want to be, I want it to be sunny.

(Even though I realize we need rain...)

There are so many places I want to go. So many locations on my bucket list. A play on Broadway. Paris, France. Hawaii. Mt. Rushmore.

I guess, though, right now at this moment, at just after 11 PM at night on a day full of work...

there's no place I'd rather be than right here... in the bed, getting ready to turn out the lights.

We'll dream about those places and I'll write about them when I actually see them with my own two eyes...

except the beach and the mountains. I carry them in my soul.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Look Up

For a reader like me, there are some books that are like old friends. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I see them on the shelf or pass by them at a bookstore.

Same thing goes for books of the Bible. I've read the Bible through a couple of times now, but there are books that always make me struggle. Leviticus and Numbers and the Chronicles (I & II) are just some examples. My head can't wrap around some parts of Daniel or Revelation. Song of Solomon, though beautifully written, kind of makes me uncomfortable.

This year my Bible reading plan is based on a devotional called The One Year Praying Through the Bible for your Kids. It has you read a few pages in the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and then the New Testament every day, followed by a short devotion and a prayer. I'm really enjoying it...

until tonight. I'm in Exodus, and it's the part just after the Ten Commandments where God is laying the law down to Moses (literally).

As I read it, I thought, "I'm not sure how this applies to me. I don't plan on stealing or killing any cows or donkeys."

As I read, one of the things I've been trying to do is jot down thoughts/ important notes from at least one of the passages. After I read the passage in Exodus, I wasn't really sure what to do with it, so I just wrote, "This is hard. I don't understand what I'm supposed to be taking from this but I know Your Word is living and active and I'm asking You to help me know what to get from it."

No flashing billboards went off in Heaven, so I went on and read in Psalms, Proverbs, and then in Matthew. The passage from Matthew was from chapter 24. The disciples ask for a sign of the times and the end of the world.

Now no man knows the hour (we're told that!), but as I read I literally almost lost my breath. I've read this passage time and again, but as I jotted it down I thought of my depressing newsfeed and all that has been going on in our world today.

Read it for yourself... this is from the HCSB translation, which is a little easier to read than the KJV.


"Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.   For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many.   You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.   All these events are the beginning of birth pains."Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another, and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold."- Matthew 24:4-12

Reads like our headlines, right? Wars and rumors of wars. Nation against nation. Kingdom against kingdom. Famine. The KJV has "pestilences' in there... many different types of diseases. It also reads "earthquakes in diverse places"... all over the world.

Christians being perseucted and hated because of Jesus's name.

But here's what got me... what really hit me in the gut, because over these past few months, even years, with the advent of social media, I have seen such vile discourse between "civilized human beings."

Many will take offense.

Everyone takes offense these days... offended just because. 

And the love of many will grow cold... we've just stopped caring for one another.

His Word tells it like it is, even if we don't understand it and even if it hits us below the belt.

It also offers hope.

Hope in three letters...

BUT.

You'll find it in verse 13.

"But he that endures to the end will be delivered."

Not maybe. Not might.

Will be.

Look up, y'all. Our deliverance is near...

*Afterthought- If reading the Bible is intimidating, I get it.  It is hard to understand... but He will interpret it for you. If you read with an open mind and an open heart, He speaks to you. I promise! It's not an audible voice, but you'll find yourself thinking about a phrase you read over and over and it will just start to click.

Read a couple of verses a day and think about them. Chew on them. Journal about them.

Start in the gospels (John is a great one because it really lets you "meet" Jesus).

Make it a habit and I promise you will be blessed.





Monday, February 4, 2019

Simmer

To say I am not a cook would be putting things lightly. I have always been a picky eater so my culinary tastes run pretty simple.

Lots of junk food.

Chicken tenders.

Occasionally lasagna (yay for Italian night at the Jackson Woman's Club meeting tomorrow!)

Because of my lack of variety, I have never been one to be enthusiastic about cooking. Caleb laughs because I about burnt the house down boiling water to make jello.

In my defense, I did not about burn the house down... I just singed the stove when the water bubbled over.

And I'm sure I had my nose in a book somewhere... or maybe I was dealing with a precocious child.

And besides, isn't that why they make Snack packs?

Boiling water doesn't boil immediately. It has to get warm enough. As the heat moves through the water, it begins to bubble.

Good cooks know just the right temperature to get the water to where it isn't exactly boiling, but is hot enough to prepare whatever is soaking in the water (shows how much I know about cooking. I don't even know the right terminology!)

As I'm thinking about Italian food, I'm imagining the smell of homemade Ragu tomato sauce wafting through the air as it simmers on the stove.

Simmers... just below the boiling point.

Kind of like I get sometimes when I get overwhelmed. I hover right there, just under the boiling point, until the water spills over the edge of the pan and "about burns the house down" by singeing the oven.

Anger can turn to bitterness and bitterness turns our heart hard. As we feel ourselves begin to simmer, let's remember that a good cook adjusts the temperature and maybe even moves the pot off the burner.

Don't boil over. Deal with whatever is pushing you to that point.

And while you're at it, cool that anger down with a nice bowl of store-bought ice cream... no cooking necessary =)

Writing in February all 28 days, using prompts developed by Anita Ojeda for her Write 28 Days Challenge. I'm not using her prompts every day, but on this long Monday I was feeling uninspired, so it was nice to have a word to focus on. Check out other blogs participating in the previous link.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I Went to the Woods

Today I spent three hours in the woods.

The sun glistened through the bare tree branches. The sky was blue and the moss on the rocks on either side of the trail was a bright green, contrasting with the dull brown of the dead leaves under my foot.

We climbed over felled trees, massive roots exposed and tangled in clumps of dark brown dirt.

The air was fresh and as I inhaled I could almost feel my lungs expand a little more; surely the air outside was opening up my alveoli more than my heat-stifled air inside my house?

The trail we hiked was one we had not tread before. By the appearance, it was not one many others had tread recently, either.

The recent rain and snow left some areas muddy. I balanced precariously as I waded through the muddy areas, not wanting my shoes to get too wet but knowing that it was unavoidable. Besides, have you really hiked if you leave without your shoes being muddy?

I breathed in deep and tried to look up, knowing that the view would be so much better than what was at my feet, yet afraid that I would end up face first.

As I walked, I found my mind wandering as my feet could not.

The sunshine was warm and I felt myself become warm, as if it had penetrated my soul.

I thought of sanctuaries and cathedrals and how even the largest and most elaborate cathedral could not rival God's creation in nature.

I then found myself thinking of how awesome those trees were, to grow in that one spot toward the sky, limbs reaching heavenward as their roots stretched out sight unknown.

How easy it would be to get lost in it all...

but as awe-inspiring as the creation is, I must not lose focus on the Creator.

It crossed my mind, "Don't worship the creation. Worship the Creator."

So often we do worship the creation. We look to our pastor, the song leaders, the groups we hear on K-love, the Bible teachers.

We adore our families, our children, our friends.

We live for our houses, our cars, our clothes... my books... working day in and day out to obtain more and more...

while the tree only continues to grow in the woods, being watered by God and nourished by sunlight and the rich dirt below...

reaching Heavenward, toward the Creator.

Today, my three hours in the woods was good for my soul. There were some dicey areas, as I maneuvered around ice and got dizzy looking over the precarious ledge above a swiftly flowing creek partially covered with ice. The icicles dangled from the cliff side and I feared one breaking off. We may have wandered off trail, and were fearful of the time (seems to be a theme in the Gorge- chasing the sunlight, fighting against darkness...)

But mostly, as I put one foot in front of the other and tried not to complain as my legs groaned through another mile and up another hill, I thanked God.

For sunlight.

For movement.

For fresh air.

For those trees, stretching Heavenward
and growing even when they appear dead in  winter time.

May I be like those trees... and may I never fail to look to You, who created me and had a plan for me from before the foundations of the world.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What I Read in January

When I am writing regularly, this is always one of my favorite posts to write because I LOVE books and I LOVE reading.
This year I set a goal of 150 books a year, meaning I'd need to average 12.5 books a month.
I printed off several reading challenges, and I'll be posting my progress on those periodically.... I know that I won't read all the books on all of the challenges, but following the suggestions will make sure that the 150 books I read will be of a wider variety than what I normally read.
I am reading about 40 books right now.. crazy,  I know! I read in one for a while, then put it down... unless it's one that I have to just keep reading. Part of this is due to me reading series books... as soon as I stop one I'll start the next one.

In January, I finished up several books I carried over from the previous year.

1. 40 Days of Christmas: Celebrating the Glory of Our Savior was a devotional book that started with Advent and went through Epiphany. The devotions were enjoyable and were short enough that I could read them in only a few minutes. Highly recommend to anyone looking for a devotional book around Christmas time!
2. Farming, A Hnad Book by Wendell Berry- I usually don't like poetry, but Berry writes in a way that draws me in. It may also help that he writes about Kentucky, a place I know and love. His Kentucky is different, but still the same. (He's another reason why I'm reading so many books... as I finish one of his, I start another. And he has written a bunch!!!)
3. Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich- I've read everyone in this series. Honestly, they are predictable at times, but they make me laugh out loud sometimes and they are good, light reads if you just want to mindlessly follow a story. (Note- this series does contain some vivid language and violence).
4. The Way of Abundance by Ann Voskamp- I love anything by Ann Voskamp. She writes lyrically, composing beautiful words on the page. This was a series of short devotions that included questions at the end of each.
5. It Could Only Be Jesus- I bought this Bible study from Hello Mornings, a study group I've participated in several times over the year. I fell behind, as it was a Bible study where you had to read Scripture, write Scripture, and answer questions... but it's never too late for Christmas.
6. An Acceptable Time by Madeline L'Engle- This was the closing book of the Wrinkle in Time series and it was great. I enjoyed the whole series, even though it involved fantasy and time travel and other elements I usually don't enjoy that type of literature.
7. Wait for Me by Jo Huddleston- This is a book available on Kindle Unlimited ($10 a month through Amazon- with numerous free reads. I read all of the Harry Potter books free through Kindle Unlimited). This was a sweet love story about a girl from the right side of the tracks and her coal miner love interest, and I thought I would really enjoy it because it was set in West Virginia. It had a nice story line, but at times drug on and the grammar wasn't great. I did start the second book in the series and it seems some better.
8. Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs- LOVED this book. It was placed on my reading list in February of last year, but I didn't really start it until about October. Higgs profiled 10 women in the Bible who were "less than". She placed them in modern terms, then walked through their stories in the Bible, and ended with what we can learn from them. There are discussion questions for each chapter as well. Great way to learn about characters in the Bible (in more ways than one!)
9. Dopesick by Beth Macy- If you live in Eastern Kentucky, you need to read this book. It chronicles the opioid epidemic, mainly focusing in Virginia... but y'all. It's eye-opening.
10. Mary Poppins- I'm not sure how I've lived almost 40 years without reading this series, but I finished book 1 and started book 2. It's delightful.
11. The Accidental Beauty Queen- This was a book I got from net galley and it was great. It's the tale of two twins... one a beauty queen, one who's...well, not. It's funny. It's sweet. It has believable and likeable characters. And the main character is a book nerd. Loved it!!
12. Anne of Green Gables book 1- Again, I'm not sure how I lived this long without reading this book, but it has become one of my favorites. Anne is truly one of my favorite people in a book, and she has some of the most awesome quotes!
0.5- the other 40 books I'm reading...

check back at the end of this month for a list of what I finished. I did complete one this morning so I'm off to a good start =)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Where May Not be the Question

At the beginning of 2019 I chose one word to focus on throughout the year. I've done this for several years... some years I follow through. Some, like last year, I get distracted by my life and lose focus.

For a myriad of reasons, I chose the word "SEEK" to guide me this year.

As I look back on the first month of the year, I'm amazed at how that word appeared in sermons and in passages I've read.

I'm reminded of one verse that I'm paraphrasing, "Seek Him while He still may be found." As I've said before, I don't think God likes hide and seek, but I do know we are told there will come a time when His Spirit will not be found by man. With all of the changes and decisions being made in our society, I can't help but think that will be sooner rather than later.

Seeking someone or something means paying attention. Being observant. It's an action... if I lose my remote, I won't find it if  I just sit on the couch.
If we want to FIND something, we have to actually look... and too often that hasn't been the case for me.

I think that it's never a matter of seeking God as we do someone in hide and seek, because it's not a matter of WHERE He's at.

It's more a matter of where I am in relation to Him.

In His Word, we are told that He is our shield. He covers us with His wings and His angels are camped round about us. He goes before us and is behind us. He basically has us hedged in...and He is always on His throne, sitting next to the one who is advocating for us, our High Priest who, like us, was tempted... but never sinned.

We know where He is...

but I'm not always sure where I am.

So this year I've resolved to keep moving. Not to be stagnant. To open my eyes and my heart (and pray for Him to do so)... because I'm told that if I seek Him, He WILL be found...

wherever I am.

Writing this first post of the #write28day challenge with the prompt provided by Five Minute Fridays, where we write for 5 minutes on one word, unedited.

Going over my 5 minutes to briefly recap my "progress" this year. I set 19 "habits" I wanted to work on in 2019... not resolutions, just stepping stones...

I'll not recap all of them, but in January I walked over 10,000 steps EVERY DAY and walked on the treadmill at least 2 miles MOST days (habit: exercise).
I read my Bible EVERY DAY and worked on a couple of Bible studies (Reading His Word).
I listed over 100 things I was thankful for (1,000 gifts gratitude journal).
I read 12.5 books (keeping on target for my 150 books in 2019 goal)
I hiked to two different places and visited one new Ky county (my bucket list item of visiting all 120 counties in Breathitt county).

February goals are going to be writing more (every day!) and drinking more water (Thanks to my beautiful cups from my cousin at Lady's Lounge  Custom Corner- check her work out !



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Self-help

This afternoon as I was finishing up my walk/run I was thinking of the new year.

Here we are 13 days into it and I'm sure many of those new resolutions have fallen by the wayside.

We are gung-ho initially but then daily life hits us right in the face.

I was thinking of all of the ads on Facebook and emails that were in my personal email with plans to help you change and grow as a person...

exercise plans and reading the Bible plans and plans on making goals and plans on follow-through. Lots of self-help.

Make your marriage better!

Be a better Mom!

And here's what I thought... it's kind of like Smoky the Bear. "Only you can prevent forest fires."

Only you...

know what's best for you. For your marriage. For your kids. For your situation.

You can read every self-help book out there and it still may not work...

because your challenges are your challenges. Your life is your life, and it's unique, with a God-given purpose.

Now I'm not saying all those plans and books and blogs are bad... because I do love me a good plan and a good self-help book. I love books on studying the Bible and books on organization and books on leadership...

but I'm just saying that we need to give ourselves some grace.

Learn to look deep at your own problems, and make the decisions that are best for you to improve.

One step at a time.

And above all, know that God's plan is the best plan... and He's better than any self-help out there.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Better... Five Minute Friday

This year I didn't make a resolution.

I did set some goals, but I'm giving myself grace.

I chose one word-seek- and am using (or trying to use) Matthew 6:33 as my guide.

Seek first the kingdom of God, and all those other things will be added to you (My paraphrase).

I'm using that as a filter for my priorities.

Does this seek Him first right now?

I mean, I know that there are things I have to do. Five days a week, I have to work. These first few weeks of the semester, I know I'll also have to put in some hours on the weekend...

but I can't let the tyranny of the urgent- all the rush of the beginning of the semester- dictate my days.

I can't let it take the place of God, or my family, or my personal health.

It's easy to do that, to get distracted...

so SEEK I am.

And I'm finding that it's working, at least thus far.

I've read my Bible every day... not always in the morning, but if I haven't opened it before I leave the house I do it as soon as I get home. I've also been using my app on my phone to read while Caleb drives to school. I know, I'm the adult and I'm supposed to be paying attention... but it sure does help my anxiety!

I've taken at least 10,000 steps everyday, and have exercised most days.

I've jotted down things that I've ben thankful for.

And I've been more pleasant. I've not had that crazy lady feel much...

Because grace truly is the better way...

And I'm better for it.

Today I'm joining (a day late!) Five Minute Friday for their linkup using the prompt "better". Happy to be back in 2019!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

If I Were A Care Bear

Today as I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I got some inspiration.

One of my friends had shared a post that said, "If I were a Care Bear, I'd have a glass of wine on my belly."

Because I loved me some Care Bears growing up, I started thinking of that post.

For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the Care Bears, they were stuffed animals that were sold in the 80s (and are still sold today). They had a cartoon series and some movies and they also had books that we got free from some company when I was little.

I loved the Care Bears... their colors, their emblems, and the the fact that they came from Care-a-Lot... a place we need more of in this world.

I can't remember all of their names and emblems. I know there was one with a sunshine and one with a storm cloud and one with a four leaf clover.

What would my emblem be?

The first thing I thought of seems pretty obvious... a book... because y'all know I love to read. Maybe a stethoscope, because of nursing... or the state of Kentucky because I'm a proud Kentucky girl.

I'd like to think I'd have a sunshine, but we all know I'm not known for my sunny disposition. Chances are, I'd be more likely to have that storm cloud, because I can be gloom and doom and downright grumpy.

Here's the thing. We don't have an emblem that lets the world know who or what we are... but we can do that by our words and deeds. We are told by His Word "By their fruits you shall know them."

I sure don't want to be a rotten apple...

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dreams

Every morning I hit the snooze button...

usually more than once.

This morning, I hit it twice... only to turn the alarm off and almost over sleep.

I was dreaming of travel the first time... members of my high school class and I and our families had traveled somewhere (I can't remember where). We had flown, though, and we went up an escalator to get to the boarding gate. The airport had a Kelsey's, and even a sidewalk set up like Jackson... crazy, y'all. I'm not sure why I dreamed about the class of '97, except that I've been seeing a lot of them post on facebook... some with accomplishments, some with family illness, others just everyday life. I just know there were a bunch of us in that airport, and it was good to reconnect.

The second time, I was dreaming of travel again. (or maybe I had those dreams earlier in the night. I don't know. I don't usually remember my dreams). My family was at Walt Disney World. Kami and I were in the gift shop picking out Beauty and the Beast memorabilia for our own Belle, Melody, when I turned to Kami and said, "We have to go ride It's a Small World... NOW."

I do love me some It's a Small World, even if it's been almost ten years since I've been to Disney World.

Dreams are funny things. Sometimes they can seem so real, and you wake up and it almost hurts. Other times they can make you angry, or sad.

Dreaming while you're awake can be that way, too... we are often afraid, or doubt ourselves, or don't want to put into words what we dream about.

Not every dream will come true... obviously, all of my 1997 classmates and I aren't going to be in an airport together, and I don't think Kelsey's will become an airport franchise (although those Blondies would sure taste awfully good while you're sitting on a layover).

But the right dreams will.

If we purpose our lives for what God wants, setting our thoughts on high and allowing Him to guide us, He will give us the desires of our heart... our dreams.

There has to be a little work there, too.

At the beginning of the year, it's a good time to reflect on your dreams. What do you want out of life? What do you envision yourself doing? How can you do that?

Now go... stop hitting the snooze button on life and get out and make that dream a reality... after all... dreams don't work unless you do.

Now I'm off to bed to see where I'll be traveling tonight.