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Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Power of the Cross

Growing up, I liked to read the parts of the Gospel that were about me.

You know... like I can do all things through Christ.

and that Jesus came to save me.

And that while I was a sinner, He died for me.

That mercies are new every morning and that beauty comes from ashes and that nothing can separate me from His love.

I didn't like to think about the Cross. About His Passion.

I'd skirt right through passages referring to being dead in my sins and alive in Christ, and would inwardly groan when someone would sing Nothing but the Blood.

What a disservice I did to Him.

I'm not even sure when I realized the power of the Cross... but it was through intentional reading of His Word.

Not just reading what sounded pretty or made me happy...

but really digging into His Word.

It came about the same time that I started realizing that Jesus really did want to be my friend.

That the love He has for me, it was made evident through the ultimate sacrifice.

Maybe it's the whole idea of sacrifice that I didn't really like to think about... because Heaven knows we aren't good at sacrificing... at least I'm not.

But tonight, I sit here on the eve of Resurrection Sunday, knowing that I would be nothing without the Cross.

His blood, covering my sin.

And while I still can acknowledge how morbid it can be to think about His blood, it is a beautiful thing. And I know that it can be disturbing to consider what He went through for me...

But it's something that we all need to do.

Pause and think about the worst physical hurt you've ever had in your life. Personally, I'm a bit of a baby. I can think of times when I fell and skinned my knee when I was little, of when I flipped over the bike and got a knot on my head, of when my Mom accidentally slammed my fingers in the car door, of labor pains...

But y'all.  Those were all over in a matter of minutes, or hours, at least.

He suffered a day and an evening of torture.

Beating.

Blood blurring his vision.

Thorns piercing his temple.

And then, as they spit on him and yelled at him, he picked up the Cross that should have been for me... and packed it.

The weight would have been heavy.

Sometimes, the weight of life is heavy, making me fall to my knees...

but He is always there, if I look for Him.

He's carried the heaviest weight.

For hours, He hung in torture, separated from His Father because of my sin...

Your sin.

Separated so that I didn't have to be...

So that the veil in the temple would be torn and I could have access to Him.

Relationship with Him.

The power of the cross...

may not necessarily be a physical power.

But it's the power that sustains me, daily, as I have good days and bad days and look to serve Him.

The power of the Cross...

Love, undeniable. Love that never fails. Love that saves. Love that redeems.

Thank You, Lord, for the power of Your Cross, and the redemption of Your blood... and may I never take it lightly again.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On Writing

Y'all... I have a secret.

Or maybe it' snot really a secret...

but I want to write a book.

I'd actually like to write multiple books.

As in, enough books that I can write everyday and then spend the rest of my time doing research...

as in lounging on the couch and reading other people's books. And also being able to travel on nationwide tours to cities I've never been to and doing touristy stuff while I meet new people in bookstores where they stand in line to get my signature.

Except I really don't like meeting new people.

And I don't foresee anyone really wanting my signature.

So I guess I'll just stick with writing here.

And that's all I got tonight... but I wrote =)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cornbread and Milk

So... it's mid-March and I've fallen behind on my write every day challenge, because life happens and I"m good at making excuses and also because I'm NOT good at finishing things, and because I doubt sometimes that I have something worth saying.

So, tonight, I was feeling particularly uninspired but I wanted to write because I don't want to be a quitter, so I turned to pinterest for writing prompts, and here's what I got...

 
So, from Room by Emma Donoghue, which I haven't even started yet: "I eat three green beans and have a big drink of milk."
 
Which still leaves me uninspired, because I'm not a fiction writer (at least I've not really tried yet) and I don't like green beans and I really don't like milk...
 
But I could go for a big slice of chocolate cake and a tall glass of milk.
 
Cake that is crumbly but moist, that leaves icing on your cheek. The milk is cool as I swallow it, and leaves a milk mustache.
 
Or a glass of milk with chocolate chip cookies. I used to love to crumble up ChipsAhoy cookies in my milk, let them soak until they were mush, and then spoon them in my mouth, milk dripping on my chin.
 
Milk with cornbread, though, was the best. Cornbread piping hot from my Papaw's oven, in the black cast iron skillet, too heavy and hot for me to pick up, but steam rising as he sat it on the stove to cool, on Mamaw's iron owl skillet holders.
 
Thick butter oozing off the slice as he poured me a glass of milk and crumbled that cornbread in the glass.
 
He'd sit on the stool next to the table, and I'd curl up in the chair, and we'd eat that hot cornbread soaking in the milk, too busy enjoying the pure simplicity to say much, Grandma sitting in her chair crocheting an afghan with Hee-Haw on the TV.
 
Good times.
 


Sunday, March 20, 2016

The True Church

Disclaimer: I'm no theologist... just a Jesus loving girl who wants everyone to go to Heaven with me. And my opinions are my own, but I do believe that His Word is the true discerner of what is true and what isn't. If there's something that I've said, let it only misrepresent me and not Jesus... because His ways are higher than mine and He deserves only the best Word.

Yesterday I read a post by an author that I really like, Jen Hatmaker.

Basically, she had been uninvited to a speaking event at a church because of her stance on something.

Her post talked about acceptance and love, which is important to the Christian faith.

It spoke of terrifying statistics about how the "next generation" (young adults and below) are abandoning the church as they become of age to make their own decisions, because of hypocrisy and irrelevance.

This, my friends, is scary to me...

but I see it every day.

I see it when I turn the television on, and there is cursing and sex on primetime TV.

I see it in our political candidates who spar in debates, resulting to below the belt hits.

I see it in a general lack of compassion in our society.

And it makes me want to weep.

I can see the writing on the wall...

and it isn't good.

Just as Daniel foretold destruction because the King had violated God's commandments, I fear the same destruction for our beloved America.

But I also am saddened because I don't know how people can make it without God.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of the time, I try to make it without God. I go about things my own way and don't consult him. I hold grudges and act ugly and seek myself before others, which directly opposes what He says. I am not innocent...

but I also know the peace that comes when I surrender things to Him. The comfort I have found in Him when there is none. The joy I have found when I should be mourning, because His joy is my strength.

I know of His goodness and HIs mercy and forgiveness.

And daily, even as I struggle with myself, I seek to serve Him... in truth and in love.

And I'm scared because I have an investment in this younger generation. I want Caleb to know Jesus like I'm coming to know Him... like I didn't know Him as a teenager.

And I'm selfish. I want Caleb in Heaven with me.


The crux of the great Christianity debate involves judgment and love. I see people who question how churches can act as businesses and grow monetarily; how churches are uncompassionate themselves and look down on others. They see this and want no part of it. They don't want to be judged for their sins, especially when they see many in the church who sin just like them.

I am not an expert on this subject, and it is not one to be taken lightly... but I do believe that this is often where people confuse religion and relationship.

The churches that you may point to full of hypocrisy?

Those are the same churches Jesus talked about in Revelation... who did not know the condition of themselves.

Those are not THE CHURCH... the Body of Christ that He will be returning for.

That church is about loving like Jesus... being a light to the world and being the salt of the earth.

Serving others.

Not judging.

Forgiveness.

Yet that church also must walk a fine line. We can't just let those we love go about living in their sin.

Sin is a separator. You can't be in a relationship with God with unchecked sin.

And just because He loves us unconditionally, it doesn't give us the freedom to keep sinning.

Christ came to set us free and give us His righteousness so we could be deemed worthy of God.

The plan was always for a relationship... not a set of rules that we had to follow or otherwise be deemed unworthy...

but in order for that relationship to take place, we have to be washed clean.

I don't think I'm explaining myself well, but this is a confusing topic.

As a Christian, I'm the light that others see... so I have to constantly be aware of decisions I make. Things I do and say. My tone of voice, even... because people are going to hold that up to what they believe the church is about and make a decision about whether Jesus is worth it. If they don't see a change in my actions, joy and hope and love and the ability to do better than I used to... why bother? What can Jesus do for them?

So I have to speak the truth in love. I can be accepting of others, demonstrating Jesus's love...

but there has to be a time when change is seen.

True commitment.

Realization that without Him, we can do nothing.

To the younger generation, it can't be a constant reminder of what they can't do. God is the Judge on the Throne, but He is also compassionate and full of mercy. He's not looking to strike us down... He's looking to empower us so we no longer make those decisions. It's not about the rulebook... it's about wanting to please Him because you love Him because of what He has done for you.

Because He died for you.

He literally took every sin that you have ever committed... ever thought about committing... and piled them up on them. He nailed them to a cross as they nailed Him to a cross. He was raised up for everyone to mock, suffering anguish, despised and rejected. He bled and died...

for you. 

Not because He had to.

But because He loves you.

Churches today are struggling as they try to figure out how to best evangelize to a society who wants their ears tickled. We all like feel good messages. We like to be told that we can do all things through Christ without really thinking about the sacrifice that may come with it... so that's what you see in many churches. No mention of sanctification and self-sacrifice...

but His Church? A church that looks to Him for righteousness?

That church is seeking Him, recognizing that the sacrifice is worth it. In the long run, love never fails and love allows us to love without judging while loving in truth.

Sin is pleasant for a season...

but true love, the kind that He is offering?

It lasts forever.

And the only way you can find it is to seek it for yourself... but I'd be happy to talk with you if you don't know Him... because even in His Word we're told to reason together.

I'm not perfect, and neither are you... but He is.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Surprise March Madness Style

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

I love March Madness. Every year I painstakingly fill out my bracket, using my basketball "expertise" from watching ESPN while walking on the treadmill to choose which teams will be the Cinderella...

I'm not always the fan of the Cinderella story, because I'm a member of Big Blue Nation and loudly and proudly support my Cats, and if there is one thing Kentucky usually isn't, it's a Cinderella story.

However, I do love me some upsets.

The great thing about bracketology is that few people ever get it right.

Every year, there's always a surprise team that wins in the first round.

There's a surprise team that comes out and plays like they haven't played all year and somehow manages to barely lose.

There's a surprise team that America falls in love with because of their young coach or their tenacity or their story that involves somebody who has died/battled back from illness/ fill in the blank with another hard luck story here.

We like the surprise element...

If it's not our team.

Maybe it's the excitement.

The feeling that no matter how down we seem, we have the chance to win.

All of us, whether we will admit it or not, are underdogs in some way.

All of us luck in some shots every now and then.

There will be a day when we play the game of our life and still come up short... whether it be as parents, in our marriage, at work...

or all of the above.

And then there are days when we just keep swinging... just keep shooting... just keeping driving...

And we're the surprise.

Keep clinging to that dream, whatever it may be. You just may surprise yourself.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rest for the Weary... All of us

This morning I read a verse in Galatians that I've read several times, but something stuck out at me.

Actually, a couple of words.

In Galatians 5, Paul is talking about us receiving our freedom... but just because we're free, it doesn't mean we can do whatever we want.

Just because we have unlimited data and texting and 24 hour access to all of the internet at our fingertips doesn't mean that we have to utilize it every waking minute of the day.

Just because we have a box on Facebook asking what is on our mind doesn't mean that we have to spew our opinion on every subject known to mankind.

The verses go on to talk about biting and devouring one another...

Which made me think a lot about the atmosphere on social media lately. It seems that every time you turn around someone has something negative to say about somebody else.

It wears me out, mentally.

I'm trying to tell myself to just turn it off... because I don't need that negativity.

You don't need that negativity.

That verse that talks about biting and devouring one another? It also says that we will consume one another...

which basically means that we will ruin each other through the negativity.

If we are consumed with something, we're completely taken in. Obsessed, if you will. Think about it all the time. Wake up with it on our minds, often in cold sweats.

It's just too much. It becomes too much, and before we know it, we aren't free anymore... at least not free like Christ wants for us to be.

What are we supposed to do instead of biting and devouring one another?

Humbly serve one another in love.

Edify one another.

Build one another up.

I think we give up on each other much too soon.

This evening, I was reading in Deuteronomy as Moses recounted all that the Israelites had gone through in the wilderness. They are getting ready to go into the Promise Land, 40 years too late, an unfaithful generation having been punished. Some of the brothers decided that the land on this side of the Jordan would be better for them, and God said it was ok... but they still had to go help their brothers possess the land.

A verse stuck out to me in this reading, and made me think of building up each other. Sometimes that negativity exhausts us...

But we're told that we're to keep supporting one another.

Even though those Israelites had found their personal sweet spot...

"But your wives and your little ones and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in your cities which I have given you, until the LORD gives rest to your fellow countrymen as to you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God will give them beyond the Jordan. Then you may return every man to his possession which I have given you."- Deuteronomy 3:19-20

Did you catch it?

Until the Lord gives rest to your fellow countrymen... then you may return.

Until the Lord gives rest to our land... we have to keep praying.

Until the Lord gives rest to our spouse... we have to keep lifting them up.

Until the Lord gives rest to that person we may not like... we have to keep showing ourselves friendly.

Even more so as we see the day of the Lord approaching.

Don't give up.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few...


But let us not grow weary of doing good, because we will reap a good harvest in due time.

And there will be rest for the weary...

especially those holding the others up.

Linking up with http://fdeanhackett.com/2016/03/tell-it-to-me-tuesdays-link-up-party-56.html

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Elohim- The Creator God

Today I hiked up to Natural Bridge.

It had been a couple of years since I had walked from the bottom, and I'm pretty sure I'll pay for it tomorrow.

But no pain, no gain, right?

And as Caleb kept on yelling back to Lindsay and I, encouraging us, one statement he made stuck out.

"It'll be worth it when you get there."

As I stood on the top of that bridge, I thought of what I had just read this morning in Wendy Blight's I Know His Name.

About how Elohim is my Creator... and He is the Creator of all things.

By Him. For Him.

I'm fearfully and wonderfully made, even though I'm often a hot mess.

That Natural Bridge doesn't make a whole lot of sense...

but God's creation doesn't have to.

Because He doesn't make a lot of sense sometimes.

His ways are higher than ours.

He uses the foolish to confound the wise.

So, as I stared across the vast horizon, looking at the treeline that would all too soon to be green...


As I glanced over the bridge and noticed one lone rose blooming...


As I watched my manchild maneuver the rocky trail...


As I chatted with my cousin, who just over a year ago had a stroke and didn't know what the future would hold...



As I listened to the birds chirp and felt the breeze blow through my hair...

As I treaded through the mud and felt the slightly wet rock on the climb up the hill...

As I breathed in deep the fresh air as I made my way back down the trail...

I relished it.

Because the God who created me...

He created all of that. And He created each of us, in His own image...

For His Glory.

" In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.

  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. "- Psalm 95: 4-5   
 
"   For we are His Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hat before ordained that we should walk in them."- Ephesians 2:10                            

Friday, March 11, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Share



Linking up with Five Minute Friday, where we write unedited for five minutes on one prompt. This week's prompt? SHARE

I'm an introvert.

I don't have a lot of friends.

When I was in high school, people thought that I was snobby and thought that I was better than everyone else...

And maybe I was a little bit of a mean girl.

I wish that I hadn't been, though.

I wish that I had been more of an extrovert, more of a people person, more comfortable in my own skin...

Even at my age, I'm still not comfortable in my own skin.

But maybe none of us are.

Maybe we're only comfortable showing our "perfect" side.

Posting the pic where we look good.

Writing the status where everything is grand in our life.

It's easy to share our successes. We want everyone to pat us on the back and maybe be just a teensy bit jealous.

But to share my insecurities? The fact that sometimes, a lot of the time, even, I feel insecure?

No way can I share that.

But here's the deal...

When you think of the word share as it relates to a child, it's about them playing together. Cooperating. Giving up the toy...

Or sharing some chips. Tearing off a piece of cookie.

It's two people who may not have anything in common... other than the thing they are sharing.

And the thing about imperfection? About our insecurities? About our bad days where we're really not sure if we'll even make it through one. more. breath?

Yeah... we're not alone in those, even though we may feel like it.

Because as humans, we share that imperfection.

We share that sense of failure.

We share the sense that there has to be something more...

Because there is.

His name is Jesus.

He doesn't share our imperfections... He was perfect in every way.

He doesn't share our insecurities...

But what He did share?

His kingdom. His Spirit. His Righteousness.

His inheritance.

Because He loves us that much... even while we were yet sinners and full of imperfections.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What I'm Reading in March

I looked at my Goodreads list and thought there must be a mistake. How did I go from being the girl who had to finish the book in my hand to someone reading 20 books?!?!?  I think I have a serious addiction. I can't keep from starting books.

 My goal of 125 books a year means that I need to read roughly 10-11 books a month. At the end of February, I had read a total of 18 books this year, and I'm currently sitting at 23 completed books, so I'm still a little behind where I need to be to reach my goal. (The 5 books I finished in March: 5 Habits of a Woman who Doesn't Quit, The Missing Class, Even Now, A Monster Calls, and Fervent).

From last month, I'm still reading:

Dark Chaos, the 4th book in the Bregdan Chronicles, a series set during the Civil War. The first three books were great. I love the characters, and want to know what ends up happening to Carrie and her romance and her possible career. The plot is easy to follow as well, and it is always interesting to read about events that I've heard about in history class. There are eight books in the series, I believe, and they are all fairly long, so this series will probably be in my reading list all year.

183 Times a Year is a book I got free from NetGalley, so look for a review later. I'm about halfway through this one. It's an interesting look at how a Mom and teenage daughter fail to relate. There's lots of teen angst, too, with just enough of an unsure Mom thrown in to make it seem real-life. And the Mom is a librarian... anybody who loves books has a fan in me!

The Leadership Challenge was recommended by several of the speakers at the two day leadership academy meeting I attended. It uses real-life scenarios to discuss leadership traits and offers suggestions for developing these traits in the reader. Very beneficial regardless of what type of leadership role one is in. (I started a draft blog with some ideas from this book, and I'll share it when I'm finished with the book. Very practical tips that are easy to implement regardless of one's position).

This one will come as a shock to many, because I'm not sure how I could go this long without reading it... but since JK Rowling is coming out with a new Harry Potter book this summer, I decided to jump on board and started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And y'all... I don't know how I missed out on this. Delightful reading!!! Easy to follow writing.  So... I guess here's another series I"ll be reading all year.

Every month I get a free book from Kindle's Loaning Library by being a Prime member, so this month I'm reading Catherine Ryan Hyde's Ask Him Why, about a family influenced by the actions of their son/brother fighting in Afghanistan. I've read several of Hyde's books, and have enjoyed each of them. This book is great! It's narrated by two of the major characters, the brother and sister of an American soldier who has gotten in trouble for not following orders in Afghanistan. It follows them from the time that the conflict began to ten years down the road, and highlights the changes that we all face in light of those who we love.

Still rotating between two devotions on my Kindle- One Year Alone with God and Love is A Verb.

Jeremiah  by Melissa Spoestra- I'm only on week 3 of this Bible study, even though I started it last month, because I've been doing a couple of other studies. Also, one of the suggestions on the reading challenge was to read a commentary, so I'm reading Matthew Henry's Commentary on Jeremiah as I read each chapter, so it's been slow going. I do like Spoestra's writing style.

Karen Kingsbury is one of my favorite authors, and I'm in a facebook group that selects books she writes. I just finished Even Now, and am now reading the follow-up, Ever After. I literally just started this book, so I have no clue what it is even about, but I know it's by Kingsbury so it'll be good.

I've loved every book I've read by Lisa Genova, and Love Anthony is no exception. Centered around the Mom of an autistic boy, the book also tells the story of a married woman who finds her world turned upside down when her husband cheated on her. I'm not sure exactly how the two are related, but somehow they are connected, and this is a good read so far.

The Color of Destiny is a free book I got on Kindle. I read the first book in the series, The Color of Heaven, about a year ago. This one is about an EMT and seems like it is a good read. I don't really remember a lot about the initial book, except it's about a woman who is submerged in a car accident, but I do remember that I liked it.

The Wedding Gift is about a young plantation owner and the young slave she was given as a wedding gift. It was another free read from Kindle. I love anything having to do with the Civil War.

I started two books to read with book studies. Unqualified by Steven Furtick, who I love for his humor, and Wendy Blight's I Know His Name, which is about the names of God. Blight is an amazing author who is good at pointing you to God's Word.

Five Minutes on Monday is a short book full of anecdotes centered on making your day better. The author is Jewish, but the stories told include Buddhist and Christian philosophies. Obviously there are some aspects that I'm not sure I agree with (from the Buddhist standpoint), but the stories thus far provide applicable lessons regardless of a person's belief.

Holly Gerth is one of my favorite authors and I'm reading a short book by her called The Do What You Can Plan. It's about taking small steps to work toward your big-time goals.

I've literally just started: The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky (because, hello, it's March Madness... and that shot!), Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (read the first book in this series last month), and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.


Books I've Read this Year for my reading challenge:
A Book about Christian living: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer... a book on prayer. I haven't always had the best prayer life, and this book gives Scripture suggestions to help guide prayers. It goes along well with Armor of God, which I just finished.
A biography: Off Balance by Olympic Gold medalist  Dominique Moceanu.

And books I plan to read for the reading challenge suggestions, which are currently on my Kindle or my bedside table:
A classic novel: My Antonia
A book someone tells you changed their life: Sun Stand Still
A book about theology: Probably Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
A book with "gospel" in the title
A book your pastor recommends: The Balanced Church
A book 100 years old: Uncle Tom's Cabin
A children's book: The Secret Garden
A mystery or detective novel: Sherlock Holmes
A book published in 2016: not sure yet
A book about a current issue- not sure yet

And I have three books on my nightstand that are movies (y'all know I have to read the book before the movie) : Concussion, Room, and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

A lot of reading.  If only I had more time. I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Protons and Electrons

This evening I had a really deep thought.

I read somebody's status on facebook that rubbed me the wrong way.

That happens a lot... and it is my gut reaction to comment on it. Either by typing a comment...

or at least saying something out loud (which means I'm crazy, because I'm usually talking to myself).

Anyway, I started thinking of how some people are always negative. You could offer them $1 million tax free and they'd complain about how to spend it.

Which made me think of the particles of atoms.

It's been a long time since I've had chemistry, but I was pretty sure that those particles can't change their charge. Protons are positive and electrons are negative.

But what I found interesting as I reviewed these little particles is this- opposites attract.

That's just the opposite of what we think with people. If I'm a positive person, I don't want to be around that negativity. I'm repelled by the "electron"... but my positivity is just what they need.

So... you can be positive. You can change, unlike the proton and electron. Choose to be somebody's proton, and spread the love!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Change May Be Good

Y'all.

I don't like going to the eye doctor. I always feel like I fail a test when they start that "Which one is better? 1 or 2?" business.

and I don't like change...

And this year my eye doctor of 33 years retired this year.

I loved Dr. Offut. When I was three, I couldn't read, so I had to learn pictures. He'd have me drill on the pictures while we waited in the waiting room so I'd be able to recognize them. He had a Pluto in a doghouse that would wag his tail when Dr. Offut would examine your eyes.

He watched me grow. He helped me transition to contact lens and corrected me when I went my entire sophomore year without taking those contacts out and got an eye infection.

I knew his retirement was coming. Two years ago, the guy who had made my glasses for 30 years had retired. Wally Williams was the best in the business. When I first started going to him, he and Dr. Offut had offices in the same building, in the office park across from St. Joe. There was a drugstore downstairs and Wally would take me down to pick out a coloring book. He was always patient when I couldn't see the frames to tell if I liked them or not. He gave me a set of contact lenses when I got married. He was thrilled that I had found a Wally to marry!

So when I called to make my appointment (it had been three years since I had been- how did that happen???) I wasn't surprised when they told me I'd be seeing someone else.

But it didn't make it any easier today.

Surprisingly, though, it wasn't bad. The new doctor was personable, asking me questions and making conversations. She thoroughly explained what she was doing and what she found. She answered questions about my prescription and my contacts.

And I was reminded that being a healthcare professional is a little bit of magic.  When people go to the doctor, they are often nervous for a variety of reasons. They may be afraid of bad news or afraid no one will understand their symptoms. The healthcare professional, though, can make them feel at ease. By being professional and caring, they can set the tone for the entire appointment.

And I was reminded why I love teaching nursing. My doctor asked me why I spent so much time on the computer and I talked about teaching nursing, grading and preparing lecture notes. We talked about the beauty of learning. I loved seeing the light go on in my student's eyes. It's a beautiful thing to get to offer hope, and that's what education does.

Offers a little hope. Inspiration. Confidence.

And I'm so very thankful that I get the opportunity to do that. I can teach book stuff and signs and symptoms and medications... but may I always remind my students that caring for their patient as a patient is the most important thing they can do.

And it took a little change for me to be reminded of that... being out of my comfort zone... which is exactly what nursing often does.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Faithful Finish Lines Revisited

Y'all, finishing is hard.

It's hard to stay focused.

Hard not to give in when the going gets tough.

Over a year ago (November, 2014), I was part of a fitness challenge called Faithful Fitness Lines. While I never reached the fitness goal I set for myself at the beginning of the challenge, this program served as a catalyst to help me begin to increase my exercise and change habits, which led to me losing almost 40 pounds in 2015.
 The creator of the program had lost over 100 pounds and has created the program to encourage others to lose and maintain weight loss... but also to look at what may be causing weight struggles, and to focus on running our race the best we can.

Not necessarily the fitness race, either, although that is part of it...

but our race with Christ.

The thing about a fitness program?

There really isn't a finish.

Oh, if you're training for a particular event, there's the finish line there...

but if you're like me, to lose/maintain weight means that you have to keep on doing what you sometimes don't want to do.

When it gets hard.

When you're tired.

When there doesn't seem to be any time.

And even though there really is no light at the end of the tunnel... you have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

This weight loss thing is a daily choice.

Some days, I choose well.

Some days, I don't... but the important thing is to keep on going.

He's faithful to finish what He's begun...

so I have to do my part.

One minute on the treadmill at a time.

What this looks like looks differently depending on what is going on with my life. I do pretty well in the warm summer months, because it's warm out and stays light longer. I don't mind walking outside as much as I do the treadmill.

I'm considering it a victory that I only gained about a pound over basketball season. A lot of the times I didn't get good exercise in and I most definitely ate junk all the time.

And, let's face it... the winter time is hard for me. I just want to sleep when I'm at home.

That's why changing life habits aren't all or nothing. As Wallace likes to say, it's a marathon, not a sprint. And while I'm not walking a marathon, I am daily making decisions that have proven to be helpful. Not perfectly, but for the most part consistent.

And that is what it means for me to pursue my finish line... in my decisions, in my weakness, to look to the author and finisher of my faith, who is running this race with me, every step of the way.

Running a 5K is on my bucket list, and it's the goal I'll be pursuing these next few weeks. I'd also like to do a 14 minute mile, which is ambitious when I think of where I am right now. I was in much better shape before basketball season =)

The first week of the challenge, we focused on writing down foods, and once again I struggled with this. I don't pack a purse, so I never had my notebook close by, and I didn't want to fool with another app on my phone. This week, I think I'll try to log food intake on my fitbit app.

And I'm also going to attempt to increase my water intake and decrease my consumption of Diet Coke.


For more information about the faithful finish line program, visit https://www.faithfulfinishlines.com/

Saturday, March 5, 2016

High School Basketball

I love me some high school basketball.

I love college basketball, too... especially during March Madness.

And as much as I would have loved for us to have been in the Regional finals tonight, sometimes it's nice to just sit and watch a game where you're not emotionally invested.

Tonight I enjoyed watching the Jenkins-Leslie game.

I loved watching Whitney Creech battle for the basket.  She never gave up, even when she was down. Even though she was frustrated. Caleb was thrilled to take a picture with her at the end of the game. I have no doubt I'll be hearing more about her next year as a Lady Topper at WKU.

I loved watching Shelby Sparks take the ball down the floor, Madison Combs firing her threes, Emily Griffith... well, just pretty much being everywhere on the floor.

Basketball is a fine art...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. There is just something about a group of young athletes playing their hearts out... for the names on their jerseys, the community behind them, their parents in the stand.

Young ladies who grow to love and fight like sisters.

Young ladies who learn from the game but teach us spectators even more... teach us about sportsmanship when maybe we'd rather not turn the other cheek. Teach us about hard work and adversity. Teach us about being appreciative of the moment, which all too fleetingly will disappear.

Thank you, 14th Region, for good times and bad this year. Thanks to the referees for good calls and bad. I really am trying to be less negative...

but am still flabbergasted how a three second call can be made on a defensive player...

Thank you, especially, to my girls.

Now, on to March Madness and bracketology!  (And also to teaching Caleb the finer points of Big Blue Nation... since he sat right behind Joe B. Hall tonight and didn't even know who he was!)

Friday, March 4, 2016

The News (Five Minute Friday)

My sister Kami is going into journalism. She'll graduate in May and is looking at openings at stations across the country, which kind of makes my heart hurt.

My son, Caleb, has been bitten by the journalism bug as well. He recently resurrected her weekly article in the Times-Voice and has been taking pictures as well.

Me, on the other hand... I've got a confession to make.

Y'all, I don't watch the news.

The only reason why I even read the news is to see what pictures they've put in the local paper of my girls and crazy husband.

I get a snippet of news from 7-715 as I finish getting ready in the morning and Wallace watches Good Morning America as he eats his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But that's enough for me.

And I realize that this is kind of like burying your head in the sand, which I readily admit that I do sometimes.

But the news is depressing.

A lot of it, no offense to my little sis and her journalism buddies, is sensationalized.

And just like you can't turn your head when you go by a car wreck...

We like bad news.

I'm not sure why, exactly...

Maybe the drama of feeling like we're better than someone else. Thank God that didn't happen to me, or thank God I'm not stupid enough to do xyz...

And we're jealous... so we are sometimes happy when bad things happen to others.

We live in a dark world... where poor decisions are made daily and where people hurt one another.

You don't have to look hard to find bad news.

Scrolling down my newsfeed on facebook this morning, I saw families in mourning, people making poor decisions, people facing cancer treatments...

And then there is the Presidential Election, which leaves me shaking my head every morning of my life.

But what you do have to look hard for?

The good news.

And it's there. The gospel of Christ- good news.

Kid President- good news.

Babies- good news.

Let's write our own news stories today. May we thrive on sensationalism, full of rich details- but let's focus on the good in this world as we do so.

The bad will take care of itself.

Linking up today with Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes on a given prompt, unedited. Today's prompt? NEWS

 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reflections On Purpose: February

Not going to lie. February was a rough month in a lot of ways. I battled upper respiratory gunk... had a death in the family... basketball season was in full swing... and the weather, well, let's just say that I function much better with sunshine and happiness than with rainy, blustery days (but who doesn't??)
Anyway, wanted to reflect on my word for the year and how I'm doing with living with intention and focusing on bettering myself. Thanks for reading... and if you don't, I  understand! This post is more for me than anyone else... but it may help somebody else, so...
My 16 for 2016:
1. Live with Purpose- intentionally. I did pretty good with this until the snow hit... which may have been in January but I never got  a rhythm back after that. My planner has been extremely helpful, and if I take a few minutes on Sunday evening to plan my week I do much better, so starting this weekend I'll be doing that. Living with purpose means keeping Him in my forethoughts, always, and striving to do His Will... His purpose... and I don't always do that. In fact, I often fall short. But God... so, this month, I'll be looking for ways to be even more intentional about service and prayer.

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

For this month: Did really poorly this month with exercise, and it has shown on the scale. I weigh myself every day, which at times can be frustrating, but it also helps me keep things in check. This month I didn't get my exercise in because of a variety of reasons- that upper respiratory gunk I mentioned, late night ballgames (when I should have planned to get up earlier and exercise... that's where intentional, purposeful living comes in), and then family time, which I don't regre.
Had over 10,000 steps only 18 days this month. Exercised 21 out of 29 days.

3. 1,000 Gifts- Gratitude Journal
I've not been faithful about writing every day, but I'm up to 250 gifts. Gratitude truly does help things look brighter.

4. Scripture- http://www.swtblessings.com/p/faith-signs.html#.VmcOQU3bKid
This is one of the best things I've decided to do! I got behind in February, but having the extra day helped... and I found that when I started my day, even for 10 minutes, copying that Scripture down, it affected the way my whole day went. Not because it's magical  or anything... but because when the word gets into you, that's what comes out of you. I'm not sure what the focus of this month's is... today it was about courage, and faith... which goes along with the book I've been reading. Love that!

5. 365 Day Challenges- One picture a day and writing at least 10 minutes each day. One of my facebook friends developed a challenge and we even have our own hashtag- #write365.
Goal: I really wish I could say I've done this... but I've not. I wrote 24/29 days in February. I took pictures 20/29 days.



6. Reading Challenge- http://www.challies.com/resources/the-2016-reading-challenge
My problem is there are so many books I want to read, and not enough time to read them!  I'm reading a lot of books right now (see a later post). I finished 11 books in February, and am working on some for the reading challenge I printed off. I just keep starting series books, which means more and more books I want to read! 

7. Ok... I'm way  behind in my Chronological Bible reading, but I'm not giving up. Right now I'm in Numbers. I struggle with the Old Testament. So many names that I have no idea how to pronounce. Leviticus and all of the laws just about did me in... but next week is Spring Break and I am determined to get caught up! His Word is amazing, no matter where or what you're reading!


8. Look up one word a day from an online dictionary site. Because everybody needs to know a random word. I'm still getting an email a day. Surprisingly, I've known the definitions of some of them, like rabble rouser. Some of the words I've never heard of.. but it's been fun to I've not written the word down, but I have read the definitions.

9. Random/Unrandom Acts of Kindness- I've really been inspired to work on this one after Uncle Dennis's funeral. He demonstrated acts of kindness without even thinking of it... but he was also so very thoughtful. Story after story of how he impacted people... I want that to be my legacy... because it sure was comforting.

10. Presence- spend time with those I love, intentionally. Caleb. Wallace. My grandparents. My sisters. My in-laws. My niece and nephew. Been making a point of stopping at Grandma Bert's. Dropping off at the nursing home for a few minutes. Time with Caleb- and really trying to do better about not being impatient (a work in progress). Got to see my girl Kami at Dance Blue and Greek Sing. Holding Melody makes me smile. As I mentioned, February reminded me of the importance of being present. 


11. Cross something off of my bucket list. Nothing yet. I'm finishing up the survey portion of my research project, and am scared to death... but determined.


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

13. Laugh. Everyday.  Hard.
Because laughter is truly good for the soul.
Yes!!! Laughter is good for the soul. Again, Uncle Dennis reminded me of that. Everyone remembers his hearty laugh. We even laughed a lot at his funeral. And Caleb always makes me laugh.
14. Keep a Sabbath day of rest.
Sundays are for napping and football and reading and God's Word. I need to create this margin in my life. If I'm going to make myself be more disciplined in other areas, I need this time to allow my soul to breathe.
Doing a great job with this one so far. Rest and margin are so important.

15. Make new friends. Make time for old ones.
Nothing to report here... I have to do better.

16. Continue to love. Love Jesus. Love myself. Love others.
Living out my values: Be Yourself. Laugh Often. Live well. Love long. Just breathe. Work it out. Finish Strong. Hope always. Give grace. Positive Thinking. Jeremiah 29:11. Romans 8
Working it out... living it out... one day at a time.
And His grace is always sufficient.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Would You Miss?

Tonight I was listening to K-love on the way to pick up Caleb and they asked an interesting question.

"If you were away from your home for an extended period of time, what would you miss most?"

The lead-up to this question was the astronaut who had just landed on earth yesterday, who had been in space for a year. He said after his family, he missed jumping in his swimming pool.

That's an interesting question, really, because we seem to take for granted what is right in front of us.

And it also makes me think of the definition of home.

Is home really the walls of my house? Or is home the people that are with me?

Sometimes I feel like the Coliseum is home. When I go to an Owsley Co. ballgame, I feel like that's my home away from home.

And sometimes, y'all, if I'm honest...

I'm homesick for a place I've never been.

And I have a feeling when I get there, there won't be nothin' here worth missing when compared to what's there....

But, to answer the question, I think if I was away from my home on Twin Cedar for an extended period of time, the thing that I would miss most is my bathtub.

Especially if I was staying in a hotel for an extended period of time, because most hotel bathtubs just aren't up to par.

And there's nothing like a good bubble bath with a good book at the end of the day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Self-Professed Quitter

Y'all, I'm a quitter.

And I'm not really ashamed to admit it.

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going... but I'm not tough.

I'm a big wimp, if I tell the truth.

That's why I love Nicki Koziarz's book 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Quit.

Maybe if I read this book, I thought, and develop these habits, they'll become a part of me, and I won't quit.

Won't quit exercising when I'm tired.

Won't quit reading my Bible all the way through because I'm too busy (I know... that sounds bad. But it's true).

Won't quit on relationships.

What I realized as I read, though, is that I'm not alone.

Nicki was inside my head.

How often have I given up because I wanted something right then and there?

"A committed woman learns to choose what she wants most over what she wants now."

I don't want to have to buy new jeans... that's what I want most. So I'll NOT skip the treadmill, which is what I really want now.

A potential for opposition is an opportunity for God to reveal Himself.

That means that I can't give up... can't quit... when opposition reveals itself... because He's working behind the scenes.

Sometimes life isn't comfortable.

And when I get uncomfortable, I want to quit. Run away. Hide my head under the covers.

Momentary feelings will always try to convince us to forfeit our faithfulness.

Too often I've relied strictly on my feelings, and my feelings have said, "Stop. I don't want to do this anymore. I don't feel like this is working. I don't feel like I'm good enough. I feel like I need to quit."

And then, when she talks about a quiet quitter... oh, my heart.

Because it's me.

I get my feelings hurt and just want to quit. Quit His Word. Retreat to my safe place. Not be around anyone.

But that does me absolutely no good.

The 5 Habits center on Ruth and her commitment to Naomi, her faithfulness to a God she didn't even really know, and how her commitment... her focus on her assignment... allowed her to affect generational lines.

The generational lines that led to Jesus.

And that's why I need to learn how to not quit... because what I do affects Caleb. And will affect his kids, and their kids, and so on and so on.

When Caleb wants to quit something, Wallace will tell him, "We Bates aren't quitters."

So I've got to quit quitting... and Nicki's book, and the 5 habits she focuses on, has motivated me to do better.

It's a process. I'll stumble. I'll quit... but I'll get back up, because He's behind me and His plans are good.

If you struggle with some of the same things I've talked about, this book is for you. Nicki's writing style is warm and friendly, and she relates real life stories to let you know she understands about being a quitter. She'll inspire you, make you laugh, and above all, point you to Jesus.

And He is ALWAYS faithful and never quits on us.

Thank goodness.

The 5 Habits has been on sale for a couple of days at Amazon, and you can buy it at Lifeway and Barnes and Noble... but the official launch day is today, March 1st. It's been my great privilege to serve on Nicki's launch team for this book, and I received a free copy of the book for writing an honest review... but it's a book I'd gladly purchase. And, if you're interested in going deeper, it will be the next study that Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies will be completing, so check out that sign-up.

Keep on keeping on!!!