Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Take on Districts

Y'all.  So much for my commitment to writing every day this year.  I haven't written in a week! And wow... this is going to be a long post.

In my defense, it IS tournament time.  And last week was very emotional for me.

I love tournament time in general.  There's something about the realization that THIS is what all those late nights and long practices are about... that THIS is the culmination of all of that hard work and effort.

Well, it's exciting.

And this year it was emotional, too.

Breathitt drew Jackson in the first round for the boys.  Landry Dale is a senior, and I was emotionally spent after the game... because even though I am a die-hard Breathitt fan, I am also a die-hard Landry fan.

Y'all know I love that kid.

I don't know what it is about this year... maybe I'm thinking of how many conversations that Mamaw and I had on the couch about him playing ball...

Or maybe I'm just getting old...

but I almost teared up when they called his name in starting lineups.

He gave it his all.  There wasn't anything else that he could do... but as the clock ticked down and Breathitt maintained their lead, and Landry continued to drive to the basket and fire the threes, I just needed to go home and go to bed.

I was weepy the entire next day.

The Bobcats went on to win the 55th District Championship on Friday night after a hard fought game against Wolfe co... and I was a loud and obnoxious fan.. but before that...

On Thursday night, my girls at Breathitt played Jackson's girls for the championship game.

Two great groups of girls.  Coaches on the other sideline that I respect.  I've known Britni all her life and cheered for her when she'd play against Owsley for Jackson.  She's one of those "kids" that always made me smile, because she always had a kind word and a smile on her face. She loves her kids like we love ours.  And Coach Thompson.... his son is Jordan's best friend and I can still picture Chase as a little boy, quiet with a grin on his face. Wallace's first foray into coaching was the year those boys were in 7th grade... just little  bitty things. I know how hard Coach Thompson works.  He scouts and puts in long hours at the gym.

And I looked across the floor, around the gym,  and saw people that I have known my whole life. Some were wearing blue and white. Some were wearing purple and gold. Some cheered for my Mom growing up.  Some I spent the night with.  I'd wager I have the majority of the crowd as facebook friends.  Community.

And it was a good game.  Both teams fought hard and played their game.

At the end of the night, my Ladycats came out on top.  We cut the nets and Tyler got Wallace's coaching medallion and Wallace got the water cooler dumped on him by some of the boys from Breathitt's pep section...

The very same pep section chanted "We got Wallace."  Someone said some of the Jackson crowd replied, "You've got nothing.", but I didn't hear that. And in all honesty, it really doesn't matter... because fans will be fans and it isn't even really about Wallace anyway.  (What people don't realize is, that chant has nothing to do with Jackson's coaching staff or Jackson's girls.  That chant stems from the booing that we received at a Jackson/Breathitt volleyball game the year after Wallace went to Breathitt... a booing so loud that it scared Caleb and he refused to go into the gym for about 10 minutes. But we won't dwell on that.  The chant that Breathitt's pep section led is in response to the Wallace that calls their games on Friday nights, that paints his hair blue on Blue Hair Friday, that speaks to every kid regardless of who they are, who takes their tobacco cans in the bathroom but lends them money to get something to eat. Yes.  They are happy that they have Wallace...)

But some people aren't so happy to have him.

Like the guy sitting next to my Dad, who apparently didn't realize who he was sitting next to (or maybe he just didn't care) .. who proceeded to tell my Dad that "If Breathitt had a coach they'd be ok."


My Dad, being a much better Christian than me, just sat and listened to his viewpoint, calmly pointed out that "that coach" that he was talking about was his son-in-law, and then talked with him the rest of the game.

I don't think he had much to say about Wallace after that...

but he did go on to criticize our girls and talk about how they couldn't handle the press...

at which point I just. about.  lost it. 

(Although I guess we do have freedom of speech and everyone has their right to their own opinion).

But here's what I'm realizing... and it's just my opinion.

The people Wallace work with are children. Even though they may be taller than me and take college classes, they still aren't adults. They will make mistakes. Sometimes they don't feel like playing. Sometimes they are heartbroken over something that someone else on the team said or what their boyfriend said or stressed over a homework assignment that they have to do... or they may just have a bad hair day, because after all, they are teenage girls and that is ok.

There may be times that a player questions a call that Wallace makes... and they have that right (as long as they are respectful, because, after all, athletics is a conduit to teach about life and how to handle conflict).  In fact, those players deserve to understand why they are being asked to do something, and at times they may see something going on that Wallace doesn't.  The key to a successful team is mutual respect and teamwork.

Wallace and his coaching staff are adults, but they are humans.  They sometimes make the wrong decisions. Wallace is at times stubborn and can't see different perspectives.  It can be a strength and weakness. And, let's face it.  He may be a little conceited.  Blame it on my Mamaw Na, a prayer warrior who prayed for him to have self-esteem. (And, may I note that at some point the other night when Wallace had called a time out and was motioning for the crowd to get on their feet that Kami said, "My, Lord."  To which my Mom replied, "Wallace is to coaching what Landry is to high school basketball."  All about the drama, maybe? But I do love them...)

And there may be times that David Kyle or Tim or Bubba question something that Wallace says, and that is ok, too, because a head coach is only as good as his assistants.  They offer good advice and they serve as a sounding board, and let's face it, they know a whole lot more about the basketball than I do, and Wallace trusts them.  They work well together.

Likewise, the parents of the kids that Wallace coaches are humans.  Their kids are their world, just like Caleb is our world. They love their kids with abandon and hurt when their kids hurt.  As parents, we all want to spare our kids from difficult situations, even though sometimes that is the best way they learn.

And sometimes a parent may question something that Wallace does... and that's understandable, too... because after all, they're driving their kids to and from practice and shelling out money to get into gyms and buy concessions. As a parent, even though you are cheering for a team, there is only one number one player, because we love our kids like that.  Nights after a game, Wallace spends a lot of time on the phone with parents breaking down game strategy. 

I question calls Wallace makes, and I feel like I have that right because I have to listen to him.

But you know who doesn't have the right to question a call Wallace makes or talk about our kids?

Someone who has absolutely nothing invested in them at all. 

I've always hated bandwagoners, even though at times I am one. And I quarrel at kids with the best of them, especially during football season.

But I don't have that right.

So, if I've learned anything this district tournament, it is that I need to be more respectful.  I need to cheer loudly, and be encouraging...

but I also need to remember that kids will be kids and adults will be passionate and sometimes in the heat of the moment words will get said or posted on Facebook...

but it's just a game and we are still family and community.

And even though in a perfect world we should all be encouraging each other, that will never happen... but I can do my small part.

Even as an obnoxious coach's wife.

Best of luck to all of our teams in 14th Region play! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Open

Linking up with Five Minute Fridays, where we write for five minutes, unedited, on one word.

Today's prompt?


That's a big wide open word.

Many connotations.

Many definitions.

The restaurant is open. The door is open.  An open opportunity.

As opposed to closed...

A heart closed because of fear. A mind closed because of pride.


No escape possible...

Because the escape hatch is closed and locked.

Being open is a choice.

If you open a door, it will close unless there is something there to hold it open.

The wind blows... it slams shut.

It creeaaaakkkss shut as it slowly creeps together.

But the act of opening...

It is intentional.

It's the same for a heart.

We can spend our lives scared, closed off, not letting people in.

Or we can choose to embrace that fear, encourage the vulnerability within, and dive into the open waters.


No end in sight.

Endless possibilities...

Open to whatever life may bring.

It's scary...

but it's how He wants us to live.

Seeking Him. Loving Him and others.

Heart open.

Mind open.

Arms open...

Fill me, Lord.  Empty out what is bad so that You can fill me with You... and open my eyes and my ears and my heart to what You want for me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tomorrow is Another Day

This post may come out as nauseatingly (is that a word? As in make you want to throw up in your mouth?) whiny and for that I apologize.

I told you that in my quest to write for 365 days (which, I'll point out... I've already failed at... but I'm going to do the best I can) I would warn you if I was uninspired.

So, tonight's one of those nights.

I woke up to white... again...

I recognize that we don't have it nearly as bad as people in Boston do.

And at least I have internet, electricity, and heat...

And Wallace even shoveled his car out and went to town today and got McDonalds (which were the best French fries I have ever tasted... and I'll remind you that I've only been "snowed in" for two days).

But basically I've sat in my pajamas and ate brownies and read until my Kindle died.

And played Candy Crush until my computer died.

And listened to my husband dissect how many teams in the 14th region have been able to make it to the gym and how he's going to get his girls in the gym, to which I replied too many times to count "The entire state of Kentucky has been declared an emergency state." to which he replied "Ball is life" and I have to think that he was only half joking.

It has been nice to sleep a little late and lounge in my pajamas and dread the treadmill all day instead of coming home and climbing on because you've been in class all day and in a gym all night and you know that you only have to do 2 miles because you don't have time to do anymore.

And then it hit me that we've not had college classes in a week and I began to slightly panic because our schedule for 128/120 is a little tight as it is... and how in this world were we going to make up this time missed?

And then I convinced myself that there was nothing I could do about it now because the college is closed and I don't have an exam finished and my students are stuck in hollers with varying degrees of internet access...

So I picked up a book and decided that Denial is not just a river in Egypt, which is basically my passive-aggressive response to everything that I don't want to do.

And I did force myself to do three miles, walking, on the treadmill, albeit at a very slow pace and only because I had Dance Moms DVRd from last night.

I'm not sure what my motivation will be tomorrow...

But I'll deal with that then.

Because, after all, tomorrow is another day.

Another snow day, at that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow For Days

I AM NOT a winter girl. 

I dislike cold weather and I love sunshine.

I do not like snow...

But once, every now and then, I find myself excited for the prospect of snow days.

Like my Grandma used to do, on days when snow is in the forecast, I find myself waking at 4 AM just to see if there is snow on the ground.

I don't sleep well on nights when it may snow.

Anticipation? Dread? Hoping I can stay in the bed longer in the morning? A combination of all of those, I suppose...

But I knew the forecasters would get the snow forecast right this time around, because yesterday was President's Day and I was scheduled not to have work... but Wallace and Caleb had school.

So, of course, the snow fell.

And continued to fall... all. Through. The. Day.

The largest snowfall of Caleb's life.

Kentucky was declared a state of emergency, as was Breathitt Co.

We were encouraged to stay at home...

and since my Mom had plenty of chocolate chip cookie dough brownies and Wallace had lots of Diet Coke, we did just that.

We did brave the cold enough to get the Ranger out and do a few donuts, and Caleb and I made one snow angel... until I fell backward only to discover that my shirt was, indeed, not tucked in and my flesh came into contact with the snow.

I quickly headed back up to my warm house, took a hot bath, and buried under the electric blanket for the remainder of the night.

The snow drifts in the back of the house are up to the windows and the cars were pretty much covered, until Wallace braved the weather and shoveled them out.

Being the good sport that I am, and knowing that someone needed to be coherent to assist him if he became hypothermic, I sat on the couch under the blanket and read my Kindle.

He can thank me later.

I have a feeling we'll be spending lots of quality time together, as we currently have 13 inches in our yard and the forecast is calling for subzero temps for most of the rest of the week and an additional 1-3 inches tomorrow.

Snow for days...

with lots of books to read!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Keep on Dancin'

Things are different for this generation.

More technology.  More information at the tips of their fingers.  The world isn't just isolated to the community in which they grew up, with those people that had known them all their lives.

And frankly, there are times that I'm a little nervous.

I'm sure that my parents' generation felt the same way to think that my generation would one day be leading the world, and that scares, me, too... because most days I don't feel fit to decide what outfit I'm going to wear.

Today, though, I'm convinced we are in pretty good hands.

I sat in Memorial Coliseum on the University of Kentucky's campus and watched over 1,000 students dance.

Dance, you say? And that convinces you that we're in good hands?

Yep.  They raised over $1 million dollars for pediatric cancer support services and research through the UK Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic.  Money raised will be used to provide a new, state of the art clinical space, as well as fund research toward treatment options. In previous years, money raised has provided for much needed positions such as social workers and school intervention specialists to help support these kids and their families as they grow, learn, and try to live as normal a life as possible while enduring treatment.

As I watched them wind up the last of the 24 hour marathon, I thought about youth and how fleeting it is. Somedays it truly feels like yesterday that I was that age. As I listened to testimonials from parents whose children are battling a disease that they should never have to face, I thought of how fleeting life is.  We never know what we will face.

One parent, whose son lost his battle, urged those individuals on the floor to find their passion... to be passionate about life and about helping each other.

I think it is an important message for each one of us.

Another parent, whose 8 year old son is battling Ewing's Sarcoma, talked of Moses and the battle where he had to hold his arms up.

Tears welled up in my eyes... because even though I can't comprehend her battle, I think all of us know what it is like to be weary... weak... battle worn.

And yet Moses had Aaron and Hur to hold his arms up. She likened those young men and women dancing, those men and women who volunteer at the clinic, to Aaron and Hur... holding each family up in their time of weakness.

It's a lesson we can all take to heart... because for every time that we are weak, there is another time when we are strong and can help out those around us.

Love, in action.

May this generation take that to heart...

and keep dancing. 

So proud of you, Kami, for all of your selflessness... and also a big thank you to all of her supporters.  Our little hometown girl was in the top 10 individual fundraisers for the event. 

But we've always known she was special =)
(Some pictures were pulled from the Dance Blue facebook page.  You'll see their logo in the corner of the pictures).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Senior Night Revisited

Last night's ballgame gave me lots of food for thought.  Poor sportsmanship.  Officiating.  How we are always setting an example for those watching us, especially when we are the adult figure... and how sometimes we react to situations in ways that others don't understand.

I could go on and on about the fact that Magoffin County's coach decided to pull his team off the court after he got two technical fouls and was ejected.  I usually do go on and on about inconsistencies in referees (which, by the way, I didn't see last night... but that's just me and I'm always biased for my team).

But I won't.  Although I would like to clarify that this is in no way an attack on the other team. They are just kids, too.

Because last night, the only people who were hurt in the situation were the kids.

Specifically, three girls who were playing their last home game in the coliseum.

(I must interject here that when we played at Magoffin Co. last year, it was their senior night, and we went through an hour of presentations and weeping and recognition from nearly every person from their community.  It was a senior dominant team and we knew what was coming from the 15th region officials.  It's not fair... but it's the truth.  When you play a team out of region, chances are the home team will get the whistle.  I'm not saying it's right... but we knew what to expect.  To my recollection, Wallace's tie came off, but he didn't get a technical, which is saying a lot.  One of their fans would even say to us, "That's a horrible call.  Y'all are outplaying us, but they won't let you."... ok, I digress... back to the kids).

Our Seniors were robbed of the chance to finish Senior night. Their families were robbed of the opportunity to watch them play that last home game.  (And maybe robbed us too strong of a word?  Guess it depends on your perspective. )

Because they were doing their talking on the court. 9-0.  (And please note that two of those fouls on the other team were on the coach prior to the ejection, before you start saying, well, those fouls were lopsided).

Rissa was doing what Rissa does best.  I don't know how many rebounds she had in that four minutes, but she was dominating under the goal.  It's no wonder that a tape has been submitted for the state rebounding record in a single game (last week, against Jenkins, she had 38. Yes... 38.) On the court, Carissa is a force to be reckoned with under the basket.  Off the court, she's quiet and studious.  She excels in the classroom and is looking at a couple of different schools for future basketball action.  Caleb loves Carissa (he loves all the girls). When he first started playing ball this year, I asked him what position he was playing.  He said, "I don't know what it's called, but I do what Ris does."

Megan was doing what Megan does best, too... quietly killing you.  She's got a killer jumper and she can drive to the basket, and most of the time you don't even realize she's scoring, because she's not flashy.  She was also guarding their best player with efficiency.  (Note on Megan: Last week, she and another player double-chased the leading scorer in the state, who is averaging 41 points a game, and held her to 11 points before halftime. Creech went on to score 40 points that game, but she had 18 in the 4th quarter, when our lead had spanned to 30 at one point and the tough defense was called off.) Basically, what I'm saying is, you give Megan someone to guard and they won't get to the goal. She is just as tenacious in the classroom. She doesn't say a lot (at least not to me), but you've got the feeling that what she does say is important.  She quietly leads by example. I have no doubt that this young lady will do whatever she sets her mind to in the future.

And Katie.  My Katie.  Katie lost a year of eligibility because she transferred from Jackson last year. She is the sunshine on the team, unless she's mad.  Make her mad, and you'll end up on your bottom.  She's not afraid of anything. Katie has been like a sister to Caleb for too many years to count. She's rode to ballgames with us and we've been to the beach together, and we've rung in the last three new years together.  It's hard to believe she's a senior.

The thing about all three of these girls, and really all of the basketball team, is that they are a family.  They fight and they fuss, but at the end of the day, they've got each other's back.  They raise hermit crabs in the locker room and cry with each other. 

They are my family... a family by choice.  I'm a quiet person.  I don't always know what to say...

and last night I was especially speechless.  These girls can probably attest to the fact that I really don't have to say much, because my husband and son have enough words for the entire family.

I just know that I don't want to see this group graduate.  I say that every year, and I can go through former teams and give accolades about every senior player that Wallace has ever coached. These girls are my girls, in a roundabout way.  I don't just cheer them on while they're on the court.

(In fact, one of my happiest moments last night, after all of the drama of the never before seen in my life forfeit, was going home to read one of my "girls" who is now an assistant at Owsley tweet that they had beaten Perry Central at Perry Central).

So this morning, as I'm reflecting on the events of last night and the upcoming few weeks, here's what I'd say if I had y'all in the locker room. I may not be as motivational as my husband (or maybe I am), but this comes from the bottom of my heart.

Seniors (and all of my Ladycats, but esp. you seniors):
I love you.  You hold a piece of my heart that no one will ever be able to replace.  I've watched many of you play from a young age.  Words can't describe how it felt for me to be able to go home, back to Breathitt Co., back to that Coliseum where I had so many good memories growing up. Thank you for allowing that to happen. Thanks to your parents for loaning us your kids.

You have a lifetime ahead of you. Right now, it doesn't seem that way, but this morning I'm sitting in my living room looking back twenty years ago. While I won't say they were the best years of my life (because how can you compare to Caleb???), they were some of the best.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  Never let anyone tell you differently, whether it be a crazy coach (no names mentioned), a college professor, a boyfriend...

They'd be lying.  Dig deep and pull out that spirit of determination.  Sometimes it's easy to get lazy and complacent. Don't do it.

You have the ability within you to change the world. That may seem melodramatic, but it is true.  Your generation is our future.  Do something big.

And let's keep playing for a few more weeks, ok?

Love you girls so very much! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Valentine

This day before Valentine's Day...

as I scroll through facebook and see pictures of flowers and candy and jewelry and cards and remember the excitement of early love...

I'm reminded of how easy it is to get lost in the everyday.

Lost in the mundane and the busyness and the hurtfulness, and lose faith and lose hope and lose sight.

Love is supposed to be magical, right?

Except it isn't.

And as I read Ann Voskamp's blog and wipe tears from my face and inhale the smell of roses that will be dead in a few days, I think long and hard of what love truly is.

This word of mine, of 2015.


It's so hard to define... and I've been focusing on Christ's love, which is the ultimate love... but today I pause and reflect.

We're told in the Bible to love each other as ourselves. Husbands are encouraged to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and that includes loving the unloveable, which is me...

And him.

I've seen anger burn hot and heard words that burned...

but, I, too, am guilty.

But I've also saw vulnerability as his arms wrapped around me last year at the hospital. Even though at times I feel invisible, I've known what it means to be known when my eyes meet his across the gym.

Most of the time, it's just a message to bring him a Diet Coke... but it's that known communication.

Sometimes, those arms that wrapped around me when Grandma died are the only place that I want to be because regardless of all of the mess-ups and the failures and the words that aren't really meant...

This.  Is.  Home.

I'm not the person I was on our first Valentine's Day in 1997... and he isn't, either.... but that's ok.

And as I wipe tears away from my eyes reading these words... "Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet and introduce each other to love all over again.
None of us ever know whom we marry... Who we say ‘I do’ to —  is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later.  The challenge for the vows is to fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married."

Marriage is a challenge. 

But in the quietness of the night, when I don't have words to say because it has been a terrible, horrible, very bad day... I don't have to speak...

because it's understood.

And on the nights when the ball hasn't bounced the way he's wanted, when the game plan just didn't work, when the tie was torn off before the first quarter...

he can say what he needs to say.

I'd like to say that I always offer a listening ear, but I don't. And I'd like to say that it's always sunshine and roses, but it's not...

Because we are human.

And as we've evolved from strangers to friends to spouses to friends to strangers and back again... I'm reminded of walking in the dark.  The road is familiar enough so that even if it is dark and starless I can find my way, because I know it in my soul...

And while tomorrow will hold true for lovers everywhere,
I'm reminded that  more importantly, true love lasts on those days where nothing sparkles bright and where no good gift is seen...

True love is hanging on when you really want to let go.

It's picking back up when you've fallen... not in love with your heads in the clouds but flat on your knees in defeat, stuck in the mud.

It's recognizing that as much as you'd like them to stop leaving the TV on in the living room when they walk out, that habit probably isn't going to be broken... so you quietly turn the TV off without saying a word.

It's making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 3 in the morning and not complaining when she irons your pants and they aren't as crisp as what they should be.

And it's knowing where  home is, and what it means to get there...

I know that Wallace Bates will never read this, and that's ok.

He probably wouldn't even get what I'm trying to say, because he's not good with written words and romance...

(some things really do never change)

But on this Valentine's Day eve, I'm thanking God that after those roses sitting on my cabinet die... at the end of basketball season... in the warm summer sun or the gloomy winter days...

There's no other person I'd rather call home.

Because even though we have been strangers several times over the last fifteen plus years...

finding my way into this familiar, even in the vulnerability, allows me to be fearless.  Or at least to keep standing in the face of my fear.

Perfect love casts out all fear... and as Voskamp says, love is not blind.

For me, it's being able to feel my way in the dark, knowing that while I may not be able to see, I have someone to help me find my way, even when I think I'd rather be lost.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Three Little Pigs

Today has been a Monday.  It started somewhat rough and didn't get much better.

Unless you count the pigs, which made my night a little brighter.

For as long as I can remember, my little sister has loved pigs.  She now loves pug dogs more, but everytime I think of pigs I think of Kami.

Which is crazy, because she is the antithesis of a girl you'd think of when you think of pigs rolling around in the pen.

Anyway, on the way home from school I was chatting with Caleb. We were listening to music and I was asking him to find a song I had heard last night while watching the Grammys. He turned it on and even though I didn't know many of the words I belted it out, because nothing makes your Monday feel better than singing loudly off-key.

(Unless, of course, you are singing loudly off-key along to Pearl Jam with the sun shining and the sunroof open... not an option today, unfortunately).

So at the top of Shoulderblade Hill, there they are in the ditch.

Three little piggies.

And there was no bad wolf in sight.

At the bottom of the hill I turned around so we could go back and let Caleb snap a pic.

They were no longer in the ditch.

"Mom, you are hallucinating."

But I wasn't, because as we came to the top of the hill, there they were, running down the road in my lane just like they belonged.

I'd blow my horn (huff and puff, don't you know?) and they'd run a little ways, and then stop... and I'd repeat the process, until I got to a place where I could pass.  We turned back around at the bottom of the hill and headed back home.

And my Monday didn't seem so bad anymore... all because of the unexpected.

And also because I couldn't help but think of how much I love bacon. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Just a Little Sunshine

This morning was gloomy and gray with a mild wind suggesting colder temps.  And yes, I'm aware it is February, but I am perfectly ok with temps in the 50s.  As far as I'm concerned, old man winter can stay far, far away. The sooner we get to summer the better.

I had planned on walking 5 miles but I was already dreading it because I have no DVR'd Dance Moms and football season is over and there weren't any college basketball games on TV that I cared about.  I can handle 2 miles of listening to music and reading my Kindle but 5 just about does me in.

So I said a little prayer that whatever rain was coming would hold off, at least until I got home from church and got my walk in.

I think sometimes God listens to our petty desires and shakes His head... but He loves us so much that He listens anyway.

Kind of like me when Caleb gets started on the newest form of technology...

As I walked the clouds were still thick and the wind was still a little chilly.  I listened to Matt Maher and Mercy Me and Lauren Daigle.

I thought about the tweet I had read from one of Kami's friends yesterday, a simple citation of a Bible verse. When I looked it up, Galatians 2:20, I read about Christ in me and being crucified in Christ and living with Him in me. I thought about the sermon this morning, about no condemnation in Christ and His power in me and how I'm not ashamed of the gospel, of how that good news means that I have access to the throne room and that the One on the throne has all power. As Lauren Daigle sang "You plead my cause, You right my wrongs... You break my chains... You overcome... You gave Your life... to give me mine" I found myself overwhelmed. 

And then, Kristian Standfill's Children of the Light song came on shuffle.  As he sang about sending the Son...
God chose that moment to make the sun appear through the clouds.  As the warmth hit my face, I laughed out loud.  He not only held off the rain, but He made the sun shine through.

He's too good.

It didn't last too much longer and there were even a few raindrops shortly after my walk, but I got my five miles in.

Exercise for my physical body, and a nice reminder spiritually to get me ready for this coming week.

He's in control.  He loves me.  And He likes to make us smile.

Thank You, Lord.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What I'm Reading in February

I set a goal of reading 125 books this year.  That's just over 10 books a month.  Last year, I read well over this number, ranging from 5-17 books per month, so this goal is definitely achievable!  In January, I read 10 books, but February is a short month, so I'm thinking I'll be lucky to get that many in.  Reading isn't a chore to me, though, so I can escape in a good book and not realize how much time has passed, which is both a good and a bad thing.

And let me just say that this month Harper Lee announced she'd be publishing a new book.  To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all times, so I'm anxiously looking forward to her new book coming out!!!

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

I'm still reading Rhett Butler's People... This is an authorized book by the Margaret Mitchell Foundation.  I've had it for awhile, but when Kami got me the authorized book about Mammy by the same author for Christmas, I knew I had to read this one first... and it's good.  It's all about Rhett before he was kicked out of West Point and before he met Scarlett.  What is so neat about it is that it brings in scenes from Gone With the Wind.  For example, the scene where Frank Kennedy is murdered and Ashley Wilkes is injured trying to defend Scarlett's honor as members of the Ku Klux Klan.  In Gone with the Wind, the scene is told  from the quilting circle's point of view.  This book actually takes you into Belle Watling's where they cover up the crime.  I've been reading pretty steadily on this one, and to be honest, I'll miss it when I'm finished.  Thank goodness for Mammy's story sitting on my nightstand! *Not Christian fiction

A Casual Vacancy- This book focuses on small town politics in England and it is really good.  When one of the council men die suddenly, the community scrambles and reacts. There's rival with a nearby community, teenage angst, and just enough love thrown in.  There's a little bit of language in this one, too... but so far it is a good read. There's lots of scandal, and backbiting, and it really reminds me of what I know of small town politics.  It's a reminder about dysfunctional families for sure. *Not Christian fiction

My "drive-thru" ride is Elin Hilderbrand's Beautiful Day. Set in Nantucket, it is REALLY making me want a beach right now, as all of her novels do. This one is about a girl who is getting married, and trying to follow suggestions left in a notebook by her mother before her death.  It's an easy read, and she is one of my favorite authors. And, as I said, it makes me want to be sitting at the edge of the ocean with my toes in the sand, sun beating down, and the smell of salt and sunscreen strong... but about anything makes me want that any time of the year, especially in the winter!

I'm reading In the Nick, a follow up book to Out of Time.  I get a free book from the lending library every month, and this is the one I borrowed last month, but have just now started.  In the first book in this series,  the main character is a Revolutionary War Soldier who fell through a time portal into present day... and fell in love and got married.  This book finds the happy couple falling back through the time portal and ending up in revolutionary times.  The characters are likeable, and while I generally don't enjoy things that involve time travel, this one is ok. I'm just a little ways into it so I haven't actually formed a strong opinion one way or the other.

To play into my Dance Moms obsession, I'm reading Abby Lee Miller's Everything I Learned about Life, I Learned in Dance Class. It's geared toward moms of girls and dance moms (of course) but Abby also discusses studio life and it's fun to get her perspective on her teaching style and the moms she loves to hate. She also discusses some about her childhood and has interviews with former dancers. (I have to say, though, I'm not sure why they pay money to have their kids yelled at. She can be pretty rough. But the show is my guilty obsession and will hopefully get me through the mile I'm about to run on the treadmill.)

No One You Know is a poignant book about a young lady left behind after her sister was murdered. She has just met the man suspected of killing her sister, and she's trying to figure out who he is and who she is and who her sister was in the process.  Only a couple of chapters in, but it's good.

Southbound is a book about two sisters who hike the Appalachian Trail- barefoot. I've heard about the Appalachian Trail but never realized how immense a feat it was to hike the whole trail. This book is about the people they meet and the things they learn along the way, and even though I'm not a hiker, I'm enjoying reading about their adventure.

I've just started Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I've read this one before, but it's been a while.  It is neat to be reading a couple of books set in the same time frame, and think of the different perspectives that individuals had, basically just because of where they live.

For one book club online, I'm reading Maggie's Miracle by Karen Kingsbury. It's part of the Red Glove series and I read the first book in this series last month.  I love Karen Kingsbury, and if you're a bargain shopper, you can find this whole series in one Kindle book cheaper than buying them all individually! I really enjoyed the first book in the series... haven't really read enough in this one to even know what it is about (trying to finish those books I carried over from last month first!)

I'm behind on my Kelly Minter What Love Is study.  I love Kelly Minter.  I love her writing style, and the way she brings scripture to life.  This is a study of the 1,2, 3 books of John, and there are some heavy concepts in there. Plan to spend a lot of time tomorrow after church diving in!

I'm also reading Karen Ehman's Keep it Shut: What to Say, How to Say it, and When to Say Nothing at All for Proverbs 31 OBS.  I love this book.  I need this book.  I'll probably need to re-read this book... because I struggle so much with this.  Karen is funny and real and I feel like she is in my head sometimes!

Still reading Heart of the Story: The Family of Jesus- I've been taking a break on this one, as I'm completing it with a Bible study group at church, but it is really good and I'm looking forward to digging back in. We took a break for Christmas and illness, but good Lord's Willing we'll meet Monday night and get back to reading.  We still have two characters left.  I love Kingsbury's simple writing.

The Circle Maker- I've heard so much about this book.  Good stuff about big dreams and seeking God.  Batterson's style is engaging and even though I've been reading on this one for over a month, it's not because the message isn't good.  It's just one of those books that I really want to be able to think about as I read, so I'm reading small chunks here and there.

I'm reading The Chronological Bible.  There's a reading plan where I will read around 3-4 chapters a day and get through the entire Bible in a year.  It always amazes me how I can read a passage over and over again, but if I'm open, God can show me something new!!! Of course, I'm about two weeks behind the plan, but will devote some additional time tomorrow and read a couple of days at once.

Other books? There's too many to name, and I have so many good ones waiting on my Kindle... but for now, here's a glance at the line-up on my nightstand.

And I may finally read Love Does.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Five Minute Fridays- Keep

Keep working,  your fingers to the bone.

Keep studying, even as you grasp at the material.

Keep shooting, even if the shots don't fall like you'd like them to. Even if you're afraid to try to take that last second shot. Even if the rim is small and the ball is huge and you don't have enough strength to even throw it toward the goal.

Keep on keeping on. 

Sometimes, we all just need a little encouragement.

A little bit of a cheerleader, someone to let us know they believe in us, even though we feel like quitting.

It's cold outside this morning, 14 degrees, and the frost on my windshield was thick.

What I really wanted to do, what I've really wanted to do the last few weeks, or really since winter started, was to stay in the bed.

Turn the electric blanket up to high and burrow deep, and just keep sleeping...

but sleep is overrated, I guess, and sometimes even when you're awake you can sleep through life.

The struggle is real somedays, but then there are days that make it all worth it, and you remember why you started...why you're trying.

One of my favorite quotes is "When you feel like you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."

Keep hanging.

Another one is "When you feel like giving up, remember why you started in the first place."

Keep going.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Keep persevering.  Keep pushing. Keep climbing, even when your muscles ache and you're dripping in sweat and you know you'll crash to the bottom...

keep it up.

You may feel weary, but He who endures to the end shall be saved... and in temporary, earthly means, that can be translated to the one who perseveres, who keeps working, who never gives up...

Well, they'll be at the finish line.

They may not be first. It may not be the prettiest finish.

But in the end, they'll be there...

because they kept up the race.

Linking up this week with Five Minute Fridays, where we write for five minutes on a one word prompt, no editing, not much thinking... This week's prompt? KEEP. ..

I'm not feeling like quitting anything, but someone reading this may be...

Keep hanging on, dear one, because The One who is in control will keep you.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday

He lines the cars up, one by one, until they stretch across the bleacher.  We make trip after trip down the bleachers and into the lobby and into the bathroom and to the concession stand. His legs are barely long enough to make it up the bleachers, and sometimes it is easier just to pick him up and pack him.

More cars, an endless line, and Dora and Diego figures and John Deere tractors.

He doesn't pay much attention to the game going on in front of him, because there is a race or a wreck or an adventure in the bleachers. There's someone to talk to, always someone to talk to.

We color and he laughs and his front tooth is chipped somehow.  His pudgy hands are stained with nacho cheese and his Sippy cup is full of Sprite.  He's not discovered the miracle of caffeinated drinks yet, and I am thankful.

He waves at his Daddy across the gym, and smiles at the girls who are so much like his sisters.

Tonight, he stands taller than me. He sits across the gym from me, but first, before he moves, he's hip to hip with me and I think of all the cars I've picked up in those bleachers, all the crayons I've stuffed back in the box and all the trips to the "session stand".

Tonight, as I sat in the gym at Owsley Co., I thought of that little boy that I love so good.  I remember him with his glasses on, surprised when he saw Daddy on the floor because he had never really been able to see him.  I remembered him running on the floor and me chasing him.  I remember...

and I'm so thankful that I've been blessed to be Caleb's Mama.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

An Illogical Need

I'm not going to lie.

I'm completely unashamed of the statement that I am about to make.

I want a snow day.

I need some sleep.

I also need to finish reading Rhett Butler's People, because even though I know how Scarlett and Rhett's relationship ends, I don't know how it ends from Rhett's viewpoint.

But mostly I need to just sleep.

I recognize that most people don't want it to snow because they have to get out and go to work.

And truthfully, I don't want it to snow if it isn't enough to close the college...

But I really think we're due one.

Just one.

But, since I'm not sure that it's going to happen, even though all my friends on facebook are doing a snow dance...

I better head to bed.

With fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Random Tuesday Thoughts

As I was typing that title, I had to stop and think... Is this really Tuesday... which does not bode well for the rest of the week.

But yesterday seemed like it was a year long.

Just to catch y'all up on what my week has been like...

Sunday Caleb decided to go to ball practice with Wallace.  I had no idea he was even over there, until I get a text that reads, "I've fallen and I'm hurt."

Which just made me think of that old commercial where the little old lady has fallen in the floor. You know the one, that really isn't funny, but yet it is. "I've fallen and I can't get up..."

Only Caleb was able to get up.

I was convinced it was a sprain. Limited swelling.  Complete range of motion.  No bruising. No knot.  Just a little pain.

Long story short, after an x-ray the next day, he ended up in a cast for a broken radial and ulna bone.

A black cast, mind you, that needed a silver Sharpie for all the signatures.

No fun.

Added to that melodrama was the fact that yesterday I had students scheduled for skills checkoffs, meaning Caleb and the broken arm and I had to go set up the lab, then go to the doctor, then go back to the college to make sure those students were ok.

Caleb didn't mind... he doesn't mind going to my school.

It's only his own school, where work is expected, that he is allergic to.

On the plus side, he did get a doctor's excuse for no PE or sports for 3 weeks. The only difference between that and any other time is that he actually has a statement saying he can't participate, rather than made up excuses.

I love my kid. 

And I'm thankful that it wasn't a worse injury.

3-6 weeks in a cast will be nothing... and at least it isn't summertime.

Even though I really wish it was summertime.

Monday, February 2, 2015

And So You Know... Accountability Part 1

So, at the beginning of 2015, I set some goals. Not resolutions, because resolve is just too hard a word and I can't commit to that, and also because I don't want to be totally disappointed if I don't follow-through and meet my goals.
However, we can all use a little self-improvement (some of us just more than others), and because accountability tends to help me stay focused, I thought I'd fill you in on how those goals are going one month into the new year.

(ONE month in!  Can you believe it? I closed my eyes and it is February 2nd, and the groundhog says there's more winter to come, and personally I think someone needs to just shoot the groundhog and put him out of his misery... but I digress).

My goals were as follows, with a summary of how I'm doing in bold.
1. Above all, focus on LOVE in everything that I do.  There you go... that's my one word.  LOVE. Loving God. Loving myself.  Loving others. More about that later.
Oh, boy! This one is hard.  I knew it would be. I knew it would be a challenge... and thus far it has.  I have caught myself stopping, sometimes, and thinking, "Is that what I would do if I was acting in love?" However, I've got a long way to go. There is so much turmoil in our community, in our world. It's basketball season and that always makes it hard, with referees and crazy fans on other teams (who probably feel the same way about me) and a husband who sometimes brings his stress home from the gym (Hello, game film for the 9,999 time!)
But I can see a little improvement.  A little.  And we're all works in progress, right?

2. Writing on this blog every day this year.  That's right.  365 posts, whether I have anything to write about or not.  I'll try to provide a disclaimer at the beginning on days when I'm just not feeling it... but it's about discipline and we all know how I am about discipline.
30/31 days. Sometimes the posts have been great. Sometimes they've just been a few words... and while it wasn't perfect, it was close, and close is good, at least for me. 

3. Exercise.  Consistently.  Even if I hate it.  10,000 steps at least 6 days a week. Using the fitness room at work more often. And perhaps this will be the year I finally convince myself to work up to running a 5K?
This is the one I'm probably the most proud of right now.  I put in over 50 miles walking/slogging (you know, a slooowww jog) over the month.  25/31 days I walked over 10,000 steps.  I used the fitness center at work 9 days in the month, and 24/31 days I exercised at least 30 min or walked at least 2 miles.  I also downloaded an app from My Asics geared toward running a 5 K and I'm on week 2.  I ran 0.5 miles the other day, which doesn't seem like much, but it's better than nothing. Small steps, people.

4. Read my Bible all the way through. I'll be reading my Chronological Bible. I did this in 2012 and it was awesome.  I allowed myself to get distracted the past two years, and while I've been in the Word, it's not been as consistent as I'd like it. In addition to that, I want to complete 4 in-depth Bible studies.  I've already got them picked out and ready to go.  Kelly Minter's What Love Is (How fitting for my word!), Priscilla Shirer's Breathe (about Sabbath Rest), Lisa Harper's Hebrew, and Melissa Spoelstra's Jeremiah.
And this is the one I'm the least proud of.  While I have been consistent in participating in my P 31 OBS Bible study, and am pretty much caught up on reading through Colossians with my Hello Morning group, I am about two weeks behind on my Chronological Reading.  I'm on Week 2 of What Love Is.  I definitely need to work on prioritizing time, because this should be my most important goal. I do find, though, that when I get my reading in, it's just what I need to read, so I'm not going to stress about being "behind".

5. Cross something off my bucket list.
Nothing to report here.

6. Count 1,000 gifts... or more.  Try to keep a blessing jar. 
Doing pretty good on this one.  Haven't started a blessing jar, but I'm writing down at least three gifts most days.

7. Love in action to other people- you know the drill. Random acts of kindness.
Still pondering this one.  I'm giving more compliments. Trying to speak to people and smile more.  Trying to think on how I can make a big difference with small things.

8. Read at least 125 books. That's one book almost every three days.  This just might be my favorite challenge! (Last year I read 161 books.  What!?!?)
I read 10 books in January. More on what I'm reading in February in a later post.

9. Memorize 24 verses this year through Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team.
Memorized 1 John 4:10 and Galatians 5:14.  I'm working on Micah 6:8 right now.

So, good stuff so far this year.  Hello, February!