Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What I've Learned in April

This week I read Emily Freeman's Chatting at the Sky blog. She told about 12 things she'd learned in April.  I don't know that I've learned 12 things, but I thought this was a neat post, and I'm always looking for things to write about on days when the cursor is blinking...

So here it goes.  My top 5 things I've learned in April.

1. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
Yes, it's true.  The more you sit and pine over someone, the more you think they are really special.  That's not to say that reality won't set in come May, but I'm thinking it won't.  Or the reality will be different.  Once you begin to appreciate something, you realize it's worth.  Having to sum up your day in short text messages and try to cram in a whole week of conversation into a weekend makes  you realize that the communication lines have to stay open. 

2. I'm much stronger than I thought I am.
I'll be the first to admit it that I'm a little spoiled. Ok, a lot spoiled.  And while I didn't really face any true adversities in the last month and a half, I did learn about paying bills (see... I told you.. spoiled) and making decisions and propping myself up, rather than waiting on someone else to do it.

3. We can't do anything without family.
This past month has been crazy. Two trips to Bowling Green (well, one coming up Saturday, so you might as well count it in this month), work and clinical ending, meetings and life.  And behind me, my Mom and Dad and my in-laws Helen and William and even some aunts picking up the slack to make sure that Caleb got home and got fed and felt loved.  Yes, family is great... or mine is, anyway.  And I am blessed beyond measure.

4. If you go to Microsoft Word, you can choose just about any font you want.
I discovered one yesterday called Wingdings, which types symbols instead of words. It's like a while secret language, or code, like we used to want to write as kids.  I know, I know... it doesnt' take much to amuse me.

5. You can teach old dogs new tricks, despite what everyone else says.
Caleb's dog, Remi, is mean and grouchy sometimes.  He used to snap at us everytime we tried to pick him up. Granted, I'd probably snap, too, if someone like Caleb was always trying to dress me up and pack me across the yard.  Last week, though, I watched somewhat hesitantly (just knowing a bite was coming...) as Caleb gingerly placed a leash around Remi's neck... and proceeded to take him on a walk!  Outside of Nana's fenced in yard... they pranced up and down Twin Cedar until Remi was gasping for breath (keep in mind, he stays inside the yard.  And lounges on the porch.  Or on Nana's porch swing.) Caleb then got him in the golf cart... and Remi hopped right up, paws on the wheel, just like he knew what he was doing.

Guess we old dogs just have to get off the porch... and hope this post has shown you just what an exciting life I really do lead, when I'm excited about font changes, text messaging, and a dog driving a golf cart =)

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Pulpit of Gratitude

I just want to take a nap.  I'm typing this at my work computer on my lunch break, taking a break from working on meeting minutes and lab hours and grading remediation and posting grades.

The end of the semester is a whirlwind...

leaving me topsy-turvy, papers piled high around me, smothering me.

It's never really the end... because as long as we are breathing there will be another group of advisees to meet with and more checksheets to complete and more syllabi to type, a calendar to finagle with only to change several times once the actual semester comes.

New students to learn and old students to pray for...

and they go out and become nurses.  And like a proud Mama, I watch them go, watch them grow from timid things in patient rooms to confident guys and gals whirling down the hallway in search of the next emergency that needs their attention.

I am humbled.  God's work is not just in the church, rather it is outside the walls of the cathedrals. Work in the trenches, where I shine my light as I can. Sometimes it is a bright beacon. Other times it is a dull light, dimmed by the thoughts and worries and cares that surround me.  How dare I let those things hide my light?  This pulpit I preach in... it used to be around hospital beds, but now it is in front of eager students. 

Sometimes I feel so unworthy... but aren't all of us unworthy of our calling?  My calling looks different from your calling, but we have to keep on keeping on with whatever God is calling, wherever.  From our homes. From our computers. In hospitals and schools and Walmarts and wherever...

Because Jesus went where they did.  And we are supposed to, as well.  Jesus went and spoke the gospel, the good news... and Lord knows we have enough bad news surrounding us. The world needs some good news, some smiles and encouragement.

Some grattitude.  Join me today as I'm thankful for papers being submitted and Sparkly Green Earrings, for naps and long walks and long baths and my family.  For books and my car and the wind in the windchimes and my front porch, my desk and the sun reflecting through my office window, Jesus and sumertime so close I can taste it and God's Word.

Up to 772, counting joys each day.  This week, a special thank You for Wallace (Happy Birthday dear) and for all of my nursing students, past, present, and future, and all those preparing for final exams these next couple of weeks.  And for my classmates submitting all of those final papers.  His grace is sufficient to see us through.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Summer Bucket List

Caleb has 12 more days of school, not counting weekends.  20 days until we hop on that airplane and fly out to get Wallace.  A couple of months or so until we head to the beach, and then another month until Green River Lake... But who's counting, right?

I've got a week and a half left in this semester, if you count a due date of May 8th for my final paper in Epidemiology, which I plan to have done this week.  Finals are coming up for my students, too, and even though I have to work the rest of May, my workweek gets a little easier after the meetings are over and the students are gone.  Just me, a shredder as I go through old files and paper, and time to finally get some filing done.

All this talk of school being out and summer coming have made me think about what summer means.  Pool time and sunshine and sunscreen and flip flops and books... lots and lots of books. 

And time with my family, which is at a premium this year.  Made me think of my Bucket list for summer.  Here it goes...

A trip to a Reds game and Kings Island to take Caleb on big coasters.
Fireworks at the beach while we grill hot dogs that are "cheap".
Smores around the campfire with the Green River Gang.
Ranger rides on Papaw's farm.
Trips to Natural Bridge and Red River Gorge, and perhaps Mammoth Cave and Abraham Lincoln's birthplace and My Old Kentucky Home.
The beach.  The beach. The beach.
Reading.  Reading. Reading. 
Sleeping late and Caleb says to get Oreos.

What's on your bucket list this summer? 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Greener Pastures

Just posted on Facebook: Slept until I woke up without an alarm (815... not my usual!), worked on paper, Dairy Queen with Caleb, submitted my final paper for EBP, Facetimed with Wallace, and now watching Duck Dynasty on DVR. This has been a great day =) God. is. Good.

And He is.  But this morning I was kind of doubting it... well, not doubting it, but struggling.

Have you ever had a case of Facebook envy?

I'll be honest.  I get it.  A lot.  See, on Facebook, everyone's life is always the grass is greener on the other side.  I'm guilty of it, too... I'm not going to post that life sucks or that I'm fat or that I'm having a bad day.  Or I might post that I'm having a bad day, but I try to put a positive spin on it, because I'm trying to be more positive. 

But then I get on there and everyone is doing greeeaaattt.  And everyone is losing weight and several of my facebook friends are running and I'm... sitting... on ... the... couch... writing... this... stupid... paper.  And Wallace is miles away and even if he was home, he'd be in the bedroom playing a game...

Yeah, I was feeling sorry for myself.

And then I woke up, or roused myself.  Those people who are losing weight are working at it.  And those people that are running are disciplined. And maybe I'll never be like Wallace and run for ten miles, but I did make myself walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes today, and I pretty much walked every day last week. And maybe Wallace spent all that time in the bedroom playing games because I was such a pleasure to be around. 

Sometimes, we have to take responsiblity for ourselves. And admit that there are areas that we need to work on. On days when my attitude stinks, I need to remind myself of all that I've got going for me. 

Chances are you've had those days, too.  We have two options.  Wallow in it, or dig ourselves out.  When we wallow, we just get deeper...and deeper... and deeper. 

And truth is, we don't even have to dig ourselves out.  God's reaching down, holding out His hand for us.  We just have to look up and grab it...

And then He'll lead us into green pastures.... and there is no grass greener on the other side.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Few Words

Forgive me for the second frivilous post in a row, but seeing as it is approaching the end of the semester and I wrote three typed pages on my systematic review today, I'm feeling a little light and airy.  Or, as Caleb told me today, "I realized blonde was the true color of my hair." (If you are a blonde, I apologize.  It's just  been one of those days.  One of those weeks.  And it's only Wednesday.  I digress...)

So anyway, I was watching something or reading something and the word "serendipity" came up.  There are just some words that it makes me happy to say. This word is one of them.  I can remember being in about third or fourth grade and reading a book with said title.  Even at that time, I was an avid reader.  On the front of the book was a pink creature.  Because my memory sometimes makes up things, I googled it and found the cover of the book on amazon.com.  If you have lots of free time like me (ha, ha... my friend Jenna would say that this post is just another form of procrastination), then feel free to visit and re-introduce yourself to this series. http://www.amazon.com/Serendipity-Stephen-Cosgrove/dp/084313819X

Anyway, serendipity.  According to dictionary.com, this means discovery of something by accident. Good luck or good fortune.  I don't believe in good luck or good fortune; I believe in being blessed and favored by God.  But the word just kind of rolls off your tongue.

Kind of like Eureka.  I'm thinking the first time I heard the word eureka was when we were traveling somewhere and it was the name of a road, but again, my memory may be failing me.  Again, eureka is a sense of discovery, "I found it!" according to dictionary.com. I need a Eureka moment at the end of this semester.

And one of my favorites, absolute favorites. Onomatopoeia.  Don't you just love that word?  It means to use a word to imitate the sound made...  as in the buzz of a bee... or she murmered mmhmm.  What a delicious word. 

I'm a lover of words.  I don't always say a lot... I have a husband and a little boy that are good for that.  Maybe that's why I'm thinking about words right now, and the context of words.  It's hard to get a sense of emotion from words I'm posting on my blog, or from words in a text. These past couple of days, I've found myself reading texts over and over, because I'm trying to capture the voice of the word, of what is really being said.  And words can be beautiful things.

They can also be dangerous.  James said in chapter 3: "Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. "

As we think of our words, we must consider what they mean to those we speak to, and speak life giving words. 

So there you go... even though I thought this wasn't going anywhere, somehow it did.  Isn't God good like that?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Few Favorites

Not much on my mind to write about tonight. I've got a 12 page paper due Monday night, so my thoughts are headed toward that. Unfortunately, I've not yet started, and even though the thoughts are swirling around in my head, I'm afraid that as soon as I pick up my pen I'll have writer's block.  So here's a light post about some of my favorites right now...

I've mentioned it before but it continues to be my favorite.  When I'm writing my paper, I'll be using a Sharpie ink pen.  The ink is blue and divine on paper, no bleeding through, and fine tip enough that even my cursive handwriting looks pretty. Some of the time.

Favorite new scent from Bath and Body Works- Red.  It's not new, since I've had it since Christmas, but it's what I've been using lately in the tub, and it is delicious.  Good for a  long soak with a good book.

Favorite song- I'm hooked on 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.  It's not new, either, but it is beautiful.  Absolute rapture to your ears.  10,000 years and then forevermore... can you just imagine?  Oh, wow.

Texting.  I've never really been a fan, but seeing as this is the only way I'm getting to communicate with my guy here lately, I'm like a teenager on that phone, stalking to see a new message.  Sadly, I'm becoming adjusted to it.  I just don't think I have the abbreviations down pat yet.

Book I can't wait to read- Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle.  I've discovered her blog and I LOVE it.  Her book is the next on my list, as soon as I finish The Great Influenza Epidemic, which just happens to be a pretty good book, even though I know you're probably saying say what?

Skinny Cow candy bars. To die for, and only 120-130 calories a piece.  Yummy!

There you go, my mindless emptying of the night.  Now to go do 15 minutes on this paper (I'm making myself), do Bible study with Caleb, and head to bed. 

And that is my favorite thing. Nothing like snuggling with my good boy.  I'm so blessed to be Caleb's Mama.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Sonshine and the Gifts

A week ago, and we paused.  We held our breath.  Evil had once again come, close to home.  We questioned and prayed and cried and feared....

And then Wednesday, awakened to tragedy again, all those people whose lives were changed in Texas.

The manhunt in Boston on Friday. Lockdown. Paralyzing a busy city.  People hiding in their homes.  A young man, hiding... can you imagine? That murderous plan just a few days before, and then hiding in a boat?  His life before him... until he made that one decision.  Carried out that one plan.

And the nation breathed a sigh of relief and welcomed the heroes to Fenway Park.

And Monday dawned bright and glorious here, the sunshine out and the skies a white cotton candy on a blue, blue, sky. 

God is in the blue skies. He's in the stormclouds, too.  And he's in the mass chaos of a bomb exploding and He's even in a boat where a young man cowers, if only we look for Him. 

And that's our choice.  We can choose to see the hurtful pain of the world, the injustices, the evilness.  Or we can choose to stand in the sunlight, head thrown back and arms stretched wide, spinning in its warmth and beauty like a five year princess spins to see the skirt of her dress twirl.

This Monday, I'm spinning in the glory of these gifts I'm counting, in the gratitude for these blessings as I read through Stressed-Less Living by Tracey Miles:
my books and a stilled heart after a presentation, Zephaniah 3:17 running through my mind as I pray for peace as I present (the quietness of His love will calm you down), my family helping with Caleb and Isaiah 30:15 and homework done even as more piles on. For my job close to home and summertime being close by and for a future and a plan in Christ Jesus.  Thankful for stories woven together in the Bible yet so very relevant to me and for Wednesday night church with my Dad and Sunday morning church with great kids.  For a love of reading inherited and my brown eyes which come from my grandma and walking barefoot in the grass and a box of chocolate covered pretzels. (Up to 745 gifts... and they keep coming.)

And this sense of gratitude, it colors your world so that even in the darkest days, you can feel the sunshine because the Son is shining on you and you alone, even though you may be one in the crowd.  And the Sonshine takes away the bad and all that is wrong with the world and replaces it with goodness...

And that goodness just keeps on giving.  Oh, if all of the world knew that light...

Linking up with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience for Multitude on Mondays and for the blog hop #Blessed with Melissa Taylor Online Bible Studies at www.melissataylor.org for the book Stressed Less Living.
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Doing This Thing Daily

This weekend I sat and listened to Angela Thomas talk about filling up my Jesus cup and life was good.

Tonight, four days later, I'm on empty. 

Caleb had a mini temper tantrum and instead of responding sweetly and kindly, I had my own mini temper tantrum.  Oh, who am I kidding. There was nothing mini about it.  And to be honest, I NEVER respond sweetly or kindly.  Or if I do, it's through clinched teeth.

We come up with this idea of what our life is going to be like, and sadly it never is.  That doesn't mean life is bad, or wrong, or even something that we don't like.  It just isn't how we thought it would be when we were thirteen and dreaming about Uncle Jesse on Full House, with his awesome wife and those two adorable kids.  Or Jon Bon Jovi and his wild hair.  You get the point. 

I've got it good.  I know I do.  Sometimes it just takes me getting to the bottom of those reserves to remember it.  Because I'm nothing on my own, and let's face it, if it's up to me to make sure Caleb turns out right, there's not a snowballs chance in you know where... because I'm human.  I must choose daily to crucify the flesh, and this flesh of mine has more than nine lives. 

Paul got that, though. He said we had to die daily to ourselves.  Jesus said we had to take up our cross daily.  And thank God, Lamentations says that His mercy is new EVERY morning.  That means that daily we receive fresh grace, and I'm convinced that God knows just how much grace we need every day.  Somedays it's more than others.

He's good.  I know that.  And I'm so very blessed.  I just need to remember that it is in Him that I live, move, and have my being.  And He's so not finished with me yet.  And maybe, just maybe, if I keep on counting to ten or ten thousand, Caleb will one day rise up and call me blessed. 

His grace is sufficient for even that. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What's Eating at Me?

I'm my biggest critic, most of the time.  I've spent my life comparing myself to other people, and rarely have measured up.  I've bought into the lie that the more I do, the more I'm worth, so I've crammed my calendar with activities and plans and meetings... until I have  no white space.

I'm slowly learning that no white space affects everything, though. I get overwhelmed... and when I get overwhelmed it makes me unable to think.  When I'm unable to think, it makes me lose focus and forget to do things and then that just keeps building... and it all adds up to one thing.  Stress.

In Tracey Miles's book Stressed Less Living, she points out that stress is often brought on by ourself.  It's often because we're trying to compensate and trying to fill something. 

Taking a step back, I can see several places that stress impacts my life.  It hinders my relationships, because when I am stressed I become impatient and angry.  I lose my temper and snap at the least word.  It hinders my spiritual life, because I often pout and instead of turning to God, I turn to my to do list and trying to "fix" the problem. It's hindered my self-esteem because I eat when I'm stressed, putting on weight and then starting off on a vicious cycle.

In the past couple of years, I've really been seeking God. By reading His Word, I see that there is an answer to my stress.

"Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
"All you who are weary and heavy-laden, come to me and I will give you rest."
"Be anxious for nothing."

That's right... our remedy for stress is to take the focus off of us... and to place it right on God.  He is able... and sufficient for all of our needs. 

Says the girl whose husband is gone and its the end of school and final exams for my students are coming up and I've got two presentations and two papers due in three weeks.

Yes, I'm that girl.  But I'm claiming these verses.  I'm putting Him first, seeking Him first, and I know that His grace is sufficient for all that I need. 

Anything stressing you?  Comment and I'll be praying for you!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Make your Own Sunshine

Enjoyed some time in the sunshine on the front porch. Walked barefoot in the newly green grass of my front yard.  Listened to the windchime on my mother in law's front porch.  Drove with my sunroof open and my windows down, and didn't even have music on. 

Almost stepped on a snake... a baby snake, but a snake nonetheless...

But I still love this time of year.

Hoping you had a chance to breathe in deep the sunshine.  And if there's no sunshine where you are, make your own =)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Weekend Wrap-Up

It always amazes me that I can hear a Bible story that I've heard all my life and still get something new out of it.  This weekend at Women of Joy, we talked about Job and Ruth... and I needed it.

Jill Kelly started out in Job.  One point that she made was that Job's wife went through everything that he did... I had never thought of it.  All those losses that Job had, he did, too.  What I got out of this, even though it probably wasn't what her message was about, was that we're in it together.  What Wallace goes through, I go through... and as members of the Body of Christ, we're supposed to be in it together, too.  That means that instead of being like Job's friends, I'm supposed to encourage my brothers and sisters, and lift them up in prayer.  Then, she talked of how Job knew God... that's one of my favorite parts of the story of Job and His Redeemer.  He was a righteous man, and knew God... but at the end of the story, he tells God that he never really knew him until He saw him through the hard times. 

The next morning Liz Curtis Higgs spoke on Ruth.  She is hilarious, and brought the story to Ruth to a whole new light with her Righteous Ruth Rap.  The point I had never taken before was about them leaving the House of Bread because there wasn't enough bread... I had always understood that part... there was a famine in the land.  Liz pointed out, though, that that is how our world is... in spiritual famine.  As she spoke on this, my mind was thinking of how the Ten Commandments had just been taken down in the Breathitt County School System.  And tonight I'm still thinking of it as I hear the horrific news of the explosions at the Boston Marathon.  As my cousin Allie put it, we need Jesus, y'all.  And we need Him bad. 

Kay Warren was scheduled to speak next, but in light of her recent tragedy, the coordinator of the event talked about how our worth was in Christ Jesus, not in how much we could do or our past or flaws we tried to cover up. Saturday night was a wonderful worship experience with Jeremy Camp.

And Sunday morning, Angela Thomas spoke from Ephesians 3, about how we were made for eternity and we are longing to be filled.  Her illustration of filling our cup with Jesus was not just funny, it was memorable and had me saying, "Fill me, Jesus..." when I got home.

I needed some refreshing. Time with my Mama and my aunts and Diane. Laughter and good food and food for the soul. 

God is good.... and His grace is sufficient.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Take on Caleb =)

Caleb Bates makes me smile.  He's forever doing something that makes me laugh.  Like tonight. We were talking about Wallace coming home, and I said, "What's the first thing you are going to do when you get off the plane?"

I imagined him saying, hug my daddy, or cry, or laugh, or jump up and down.

"Turn on my phone." He said, without hesitating.  I'm guessing it is so he can get a picture of his daddy, but those of you who know my son well knows he doesn't do well without his technology. Caleb without his cell phone, Papaw William without his cigarettes... could make a long plane ride for this ol' girl.

Quickwitted he is. He's always there with a comeback, often leaving me speechless.  Sometimes, I honestly just sit there and stare in awe at the little man he's become. Sometimes, I sit and stare in exhaustion, because he never stops. 

But he makes me better.  He's taught me what it means to love someone no matter what. I thought I loved my parents, I thought I loved Wallace, I thought I loved Holly and Kami... until Caleb came along.

And he makes me want to do better.  It's scary times, and I understand why the Bible talked about in the last days, "Woe be unto the mothers."  I worry about things he'll see... things he'll hear.  I worry as I see our nation in war and the economy and changes in society.  Most of all, I worry that I won't be a strong enough light.

I can give Caleb Bates the world.  I can buy him an iphone, and legos, and clothes from Hollister and American Eagle, and make sure he has life experiences, but all of that is vanity if I don't show him God.  Not just the God of judgement... but the God of love, who gave me this awesome gift.

Lord, help me be the Mama that Caleb deserves. I'm so very blessed to be his Mama. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The End of the Rope

Homework.  Lecture notes.  Paper due.  Missing Wallace.  Running back and forth from town. A messy house. 

Time flying by as I fill it with more, more, more, to do.  Clinical paperwork to grade.  A study guide to type up.  Another paper to write.  More helping Caleb with homework that he doesn't want to do. 

If you've read this blog at all you know that sometimes my to do list gives me heart palpitations.  I live in a constant state of hurry up and go and do, do, do... and my chaos is sometimes out of control.

I'm learning, though, to take deep breaths and focus on that which is necessary and that which is good and let go of what isn't.  Part of that life lesson is what brought me to Stressed Less Living, by Tracey Miles. I'm reading it as a part of a Bible study through Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Study, and just reading the first chapter let me know that it's a book we could all use.

See, when I'm stressed, I tend to start thinking I need to do something, which only adds to my stress.  This book focuses on Who can do something about it... and most of the time, there is no "I" in it, apart from the I AM... You got it...God.

Chapter one spoke to me in several ways, and I could probably fill pages up.  The one quote that really stuck out to me, though, talked about coming to the end of our rope.  I'm nowhere near there right now, but I have been before. One of my favorite quotes for final exam time is, "When you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." In fact, I recently sent that in an email to Wallace, who does not do well with lack of sleep.  =) So this quote hit me in the gut, "Sometimes, God allows us to get to the very end of our rope, barely hanging on by one little thread, before He reaches down and pulls us up with one mighty swoop."  We dangle there, exhausted.  We know we've come as far as we can... and we figure out that He has to be the one doing the work.  We can't pull ourselves up to safety... It has to be Him.  Matthew 5:3 from The Message Translation sums it up really well, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule."

You may be like me, at the end of a semester staring at several papers left to write and exams to admininster and a kiddo with summer break fever even though he still has a month of school left.  You may be dangling at the end of a broken marriage where deceit and betrayal have left you wondering how you even hung on this long to begin with. Maybe you're hanging there at the end of some terminal disease or a chronic health problem or financial struggles. 

Our arms are shaky and feel like they are about to come out of socket.  We're probably breathing hard from the exertion of hanging on. There's those palpitations that come, and that anxiety that looms dark.  We're exhausted and frustrated and just know we are about to come crashing down...

And then there's God.  Our safety net.  He's there to catch us, to swoop down with His loving arms and bring us to a place of safety and rest.  He's dependable when others aren't.  He has the answers when we can't even see the whole question. And He's not going to just leave us hanging...

Thank You, Lord, that You're there. Help us depend on You, and remember that in our weakness, You are strong... and Your grace is sufficient.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Counting for the Connection

Yesterday I did my walking outside.  The clouds were starting to move but the sun shined gold on the gravel.  I was reminded that the earth sings to God in worship, as the birds were chirping and the winds were rustling through the tree leaves. The creek gurgled to its destination and somewhere in the distance a dog barked.  At that time, I was in tune... sometimes we are grounded and connected in a way we don't understand.

Last night Caleb and I facetimed with Wallace over the internet.  The picture wasn't always clear and there were times when we couldn't hear him.  At times we would see his face, and at times the screen would be blank.  Finally, we lost connection and he called back. I could hear him loud and clear, but something about that poor connection made me miss him even more.  I thought again of how connected I felt during my walk, and how that a poor connection can impact communication.

A poor connection... a bitter heart?  A prideful thought?  Time spent doing something other than reading His Word?  Wallowing in my loneliness?

All of those sever the connection with God...

but there is a way to maintain connection.Seek Him. Ask.  Read His Word. And stay thankful.

Thanking Him today for these 1000 gifts, up to 640.  Thankful this past week for:
lunch with a friend and time with my grandmas.  Romans 5:28...again.  My sins nailed on the cross and my bookshelf nailed together holding books that I may or may not ever get around to reading, for 60 degree weather and a long walk with my music cranked up, for golf cart rides and little boy giggles, for sunshine and facetimea dn the realizeation that I don't ahve to try to do anything other than what I am able to do.  The sun rising on the horizon behind the clouds and laughter on hard days.  My nursing students in their white uniforms and my phone charger and good coworkers, Dance Moms on DVR and studying Luke with Caleb...

And as I keep counting these gifts, writing and thinking and pulling them to mind, my connection is clear.
How can it not be when all I concentrate on is His good? 
And how can I not be grateful when I see that in all of my insufficiency, in all of my not good enough... He is? 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

One Day at a Time

Weekends go by too fast.  In between article review and paper writing and walking and riding the golf cart and Walmart and church I look up and I've not done much of nothing, but it's gone by.

So much to do, so little time to do it, but I know that God will help me.  Today, as I sat thinking about the rest of this semester and all I had to do for work and school, I got a little anxious.  Then I remembered the verse that talked about not worrying about tomorrow, that tomorrow has enough worries of its own.

So I decided.  I'll worry about today today.  So I read a couple of articles, posted a couple of assignments that needed to be posted for my students, walked and spent some time with Caleb.

And tomorrow I'll worry about tomorrow.  I'll grade clinical assignments and read some more articles and work on lecture notes and walk and spend time with Caleb. 

And Tuesday... you get the idea.

Someone asked me how I did all I did and still find time to read, and that's how.  I take a few minutes every day to sneak in reading time, and do what I have to do. 

And trust that He'll redeem my time. Now, off to bed because tomorrow is Monday.  I'm so glad Monday only comes one time in a week =)

Friday, April 5, 2013

What I'm Reading April edition

 This is my FAVORITE post to write.  As I've said before, I really wish I could make a living from just reading.  There are too many books out there to read and not enough time! I'm still reading several of the books I was reading in March, but that's ok. 

The favorite book I'm reading right now is a fictional book called The Postmistress.  Set in WWII era, it's about a doctor who goes to Europe to serve, the wife he leaves behind, and the postmistress at the small town post office where they are from.  It's really good... and I think it's getting ready to get better.  I'm also reading The Goodbye Summer, about a woman who moves her grandmother into an assisted living facility and discovers herself as she meets those living at the facility.  This is the book that stays in my car and I read through in the drive-thru, which Caleb finds hilarious.  I must admit, sometimes I wish for longer lines so I can keep reading =)

I just started The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice.  She is one of my favorite authors, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be good.

On my Kindle, I'm reading The Last Days of Summer, a free read that was slow at first but is getting better.  In this one, two young people find themselves meeting years after their parents were killed  in the same car accident.  It's set in the 70s, and is going to be a heart-tugger, I think.  I'm also reading The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, which I've been reading since last month, I guess.  It was recommended by my epidemiology teacher, and is really, really good, just taking me a while to get through because it is technical. It talks a lot about the history of medicine in America, and the history of the military and miliatry medical units, so it's great for a history buff like me!

I'm finishing up My One Word.  I knew what my word was for this year before I started reading it, but it's been a good book to help me focus on that word, and definitely has some ideas to help me next year as I come up with a new word for 2014 (which will be here before we know it!)   I'm also getting started on Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles, which I will be reading for a 12 week study with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies.  I'm leading a small facebook group, which is fun. We're reading it slowly, one chapter at a time, and I can already tell that is is going to take time to process, because Chapter 1 was GOOD.  Another book I'm reading from last month is John Maxwell's 15 Laws of Growth.  I'm on Chapter 4, reading one or two chapters a month.  And I'm planning on reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan for a book club.

Then there's always my Bible... which I love to read.  Caleb and I are doing some reading together, which has been good.

I'm already compiling my summer wish list.  Got a whole shelf in there full- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Art of Fielding, Rhett Butler's People, some books by Sherryl Woods... and a Kindle full, too- Sparkly Green Earrings, The Boy in the Suitcase, The Good Sister, Water for Elephants.. and, of course, the ever elusive War and Peace =)

Let me know what you're reading!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sing Your Praises

I've got a boy that sings in the shower.  He sings doing his homework. He sings in the car.  He claps and stomps and claps and jumps and just generally makes noise.

And that's ok.  In fact, it's even Biblical- Psalm 100:

"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!" Sometimes I don't really like that noise, but I know that he can't contain it.  And the Bible said that if we didn't rejoice, the rocks will surely cry out.  No danger of the rocks crying out for Caleb's rejoicinig.  

"Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!"   Be glad that we can serve Him, and serve others.  Be happy.  Let others know we're glad.  Sing in His presence.  It might be at home, in the shower, in church, or in the car.  It might be walking on your treadmill.  Sometimes, you feel so good your heart just sings... that's God.

" Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." He is God.  There is none other.  He knit us together and He has a plan and we have a future and a hope.  He is God. He is sovereign.  He is in control. He works all things for good.  We are His people, chosen, given the spirit of adoption to cry Abba, Father.  He cares for us as the Good Shepherd. He provided for our needs and protects us from the wolves that prowl. 

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" Enter His presence with thanksgiving. Be grateful for all things. Bless His name.  Bless You, Lord. 

"For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."
HE.  IS.  GOOD.  His love endures forever. It is steadfast, never changing, never wavering.  He is faithful, and we see it every day, from generation to generation.

He is God.  And He is good. And maybe we all need to sing just a little bit more =)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March in Review

Yesterday, I realized that a quarter of the year passed by.  April already. The sky was blue and it was sunny but cool and I'm thinking I've about got through the hard part... except sometimes it's all hard. Tonight, though, is good....

Each month I've been reviewing my goals from the New Year, so here it goes. Sorry if it's boring, but this makes me accountable and look at how I've progressed... and maybe where there is room for improvement. 

Not lost much weight, but I have been exercising at least 30 minutes 3 days a week. Not done much better in March, in fact, I might have done a little worse.  I'm happy to say that the last three days I've walked every day =) I really do want to start running, but I'm still pretty bad out of shape.  I'll just keep on keeping on.

I'm still behind on my Bible reading.  I'm in Joshua, almost a month behind.  I love how God speaks to us, though, and is never late.  This chapter is full of the encouragement, "Don't be afraid. Be strong. Be courageous.", which I really need right now. I'm pretty confident that over the summer I'll be able to catch up on the reading plan.

I'm memorizing Matthew 5, 6, & 7 this year. Pretty lofty goal, and I've just. about.  quit.  I stalled out on verses 21-22, but as I'm writing this I'm thinking of how much I need that Word, so I'm resolved to start back this weekend, go back and review what I memorized and start where I left off.  Nobody said I had to memorize it in a year =) I've also memorized six verses for Beth Moore's SSMT, and am working on Romans 5:1-2, speaking a message of grace.

I've not taken a pic every day; I went for a couple of weeks in March without one.  And I'm about two weeks behind on posting in my album, but I'm making a list so when I have time I can catch up.  I've blogged almost every day.... some days they've been good, somedays I've been pushing it, but I find that once I start writing, I can usually find something to say.  Whether anyone wants to read it, that's another matter, but this whole life is between me and God, anyway...an audience of One.

I've worked through Lisa Harper's Malachi and am on week 4 of Beth Moore's Daniel (again) with a group of friends on Facebook (goal of 4 in depth Bible studies). I've fallen behind, but I am resolved to finish.  I finished Let. It. Go. and will start another group with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies on Facebook over Tracie Miles's Stress Less Living.  I know I could sure use that message!  I'm also working through Luke with Caleb every night. We started in chapter 9 last week and are in chapter 10 this week. 

I read 9 books in March, for a total of 26 out of my 80 books; 54 to go. This is probably my favorite goal because I enjoy it so much! I wish I could make a living by reading!! I can't wait to write about what I'm reading in April! And thanks to my loving husband, I got to download more books on my Kindle. They are just waiting there, along with a complete bookshelf in my office, ready for me to read this summer. 

Participating in the Joy Dare and counting 1000 gifts... counted a total of 600 through March.  He is so good!

Getting more sleep... not 8 hours a night, but going to bed at a decent hour most nights, and feeling more rested  in the morning. I've actually been going to bed pretty early most nights, 930 or 10.  I'm still not a morning person, but I'm trying...

As I look back over the first quarter of 2013, it's been a pretty good year. I've made some improvements.  I've got some other areas that I need to work on.  Mostly, I'm learning just to live day by day, doing the best I can, and granting grace to myself and others when it doesn't necessarily go as planned.  His mercies are new every morning... and His grace is sufficient. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

And the Foolish Shall Confound the Wise

April Fool's Day, and it started out another gloomy Monday. Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the movie Groundhog Day, where I wake up over and over again and it is the same thing, day in and day out.  For the most part, I'm okay with that, because I like staying in my comfort zone.  I like the familiar and the known.

I work at my desk all day, crossing off my to do list and gazing at my beach pictures and my sand in a jar with longing.  As I look out my window, I notice that the sky has cleared and blue is peeking out, and the sun reflects through onto my chair.  The tree is beginning to bud, although you have to strain really close to see....

Spring is late here and the season of growth isn't really even started, but those small buds let me know it is coming.  I don't understand this cycle, this day in day out rhythm, but I know it makes sense to Someone above, and I'm reminded on this day that the foolish things will be used to confound the wise.

Like a man hanging on a cross for the sins of the world, and grace that is free for us but was paid by Him. 

"How could that be?", these wise men of the world ask. Those who are learned and have experimented and are convinced that Science is the answer, that cold, hard facts are proof that our God doesn't really exist like we say He does...

But then there is a heart like mine, full of joy and hope in this near-spring, who can look at the buds on the trees and see the blossoms that will arise.

This heart that is softened and tendered by gratitude, for accepting that grace that has no explanation, who keep looking, looking, for all of those things that prove God is real and Hope is alive and the Tomb is empty and those who are wise are unable to figure it out, and April Fools Day can be a day full of thankfulness, just like every other day.

Thankful for: lunch and shopping with my Mom and my sister, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 10:4, Matthew 11:28-29; His Word, The Truth, John 14:27, Time alone to watch a movie and read, My family, the work of the cross, God's Battle Plan for my life, my time, ink pens, I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin, Baby Will, hope, Easter with the family, Wallace, work, time with Caleb