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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Self-help

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

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

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

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

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

Make your marriage better!

Be a better Mom!

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

Only you...

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

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

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

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

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

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

One step at a time.

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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Better... Five Minute Friday

This year I didn't make a resolution.

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

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

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

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

Does this seek Him first right now?

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

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

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

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

so SEEK I am.

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

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

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

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

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

Because grace truly is the better way...

And I'm better for it.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2019

If I Were A Care Bear

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would my emblem be?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dreams

Every morning I hit the snooze button...

usually more than once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the right dreams will.

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

There has to be a little work there, too.

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

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

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

Monday, January 7, 2019

Game Show Contestant

One of my goals for the new year was to write as much as I can. I am a feelings hoarder... I hoard up my feelings until they overwhelm me... and journaling is one way to get rid of some of the chaos that is my mind.

There are lots of things that I like to write about. Caleb is one of my favorite subjects, although I've found myself not sharing as much about him now that he is older.

I love to write about my interests- books and reading, hiking and outdoor adventures, and the great state of Kentucky (y'all! I'm going to write a travel book. Really, I am. It just may take me a few years... but you heard it here first!)

I love to write about Bible studies and time in His Word and what He's saying to me... if I listen.

Tonight, though, on this first Monday of 2019, I just wasn't inspired...

but I was determined. And that's what really makes a writer... writers write.

Even if they don't always have something to say.

So I googled "writing prompts" and liked this one: If you could be on any game show, what would it be? Describe what happens when you're on the show.

Now I love game shows... I always have. Whammy. Price is Right. $20,000 Pyramid. Win, Lose, or Draw. Family Fued.

But I have two all time favorites... and I come by these honestly.

About once a week (give or take), I spend the night with Mamaw Bert. She has a routine downpat. I'd say it's the same routine she's had since she retired.

At 7 PM every weekday, Wheel of Fortune is playing on that TV, followed by Jeopardy.

My Papaw Paul especially liked Jeopardy...and he's the only person I know who caught a mistake in an answer. It was something about a mule, I think. (What is it about my grandparents and mules?)

Anyway, I love those two shows. Grandma will always say, "Watch what you want." but I wouldn't change it for the world.

For that hour, I don't read on my Kindle or play on my computer.

I pretend like I'm a contestant.

If I could go on any show, it'd be Wheel of Fortune. I'd get every puzzle right and not go bankrupt once (even though the wheel seems rigged). I'd go to the final round and my letters would be MCB A.

And I'd win a new car! Not because my old one is bad, but as a young girl those new cars always fascinated me.

(Not as much as the showcase showdown on Price is Right when there was a theme and the girls dressed up as detectives... or did I make that up?)

I'd love to go on Jeopardy... but I'm no good at quick recall, and let's face it. I'm not a genius.

Although I do love me some literature categories.

Good night, Pat and Vanna. Maybe I'll see you someday.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Hide and Seek

My niece Melody loves a good game of hide and seek. She'll tell you to go hide, then watch where you go. She's got the counting down, but isn't great at hiding. She's a little like her Mama, whose giggles would often give her away.

It's one of the first games we learn as a child...

you'd almost say it's human nature.

And hiding is. It's one of the first things we see in the garden, after the fall of man.

Adam, ashamed of his nakedness, hides in the bushes... from an omnipotent God, who knows all things. Who knew before he took the bite of the fruit that he was going to.

Instead of calling Adam out (like Jesus did Zaccheus), God gives Adam a chance to come clean.

"Where are you?"- He asked.

And Adam, ashamed, came out and told God, in a few other words, "I was naked and ashamed so I hid myself."

How often do we take the childish game to a higher level and do just as Adam did?

I'm ashamed... so I'll hide.
I'm not worthy... so I'll hide.
I'm scared... so I'll hide.

You fill in the blank. Even when we seem to be living out loud, we're hiding behind a mask that says "I'm fine". We hide our true selves and present another version to the world, often because of shame.

There's another instance in the Bible that tells of a man ashamed. Isaiah, a prophet of God, comes face to face with His Lord. "Woe is me!"- he says, "for I am a man of unclean lips."

He knows his situation. He knows the situation of his people, too... how they had fallen away from God. He feels shame... complete and utter devastation. Woe.... sorrow.

But God redeems, Him, too. Just as He covered Adam's shame with animal skins, He sends His angel with a hot coal to purify the uncleanliness of Isaiah's lips. And then He says, "Who shall I send?"

Not "where are you", because He knows where Isaiah is... but it's not really about where we are. It's about where we'll go.

"Who shall I send?" because somebody needs to go. Somebody needs to serve, and love, and preach.

"Who shall I send?"

"Here am I, send me" Isaiah bravely answers.

"Here am I!"

Lord, here am I, willing. I've been hiding... and always you've been seeking. Pursuing. Never giving up.

So it's my turn. I'll not bother hiding my eyes, because I want to see you.
I'll not bothering counting to ten, because I want to find you.

Here am I, Lord, seeking You.

"And you will seek me and find me if you seek with your whole heart."

Friday, January 4, 2019

I Am...

I AM POEM (fill in the blacks with the directions.  Be as unusual as you dare!)

I am     quiet and unsure. 
I wonder     what is going on in Heaven right now.
I hear     the TV blaring.
I see    the cursor blinking on my computer screen.
I want     to be content.
I am     quiet and unsure.
  
I pretend     that I am confident.
I feel     as though I can conquer mountains.
I touch     someone else's life.
I worry     that I'll never get "it" right, or that I won't even figure out what "it" is.
I cry     when I think of others hurting.
I am     quiet and unsure.
  
I understand     that Jesus is enough.
I say    that God is in control, and I am not.
I dream    of words on a page going into the world to make a difference... my words.
I try     to live in the moment.
I hope     because there is no other option.
I am     quiet and unsure.

This was written using a prompt from http://promptsforwriters.blogspot.com/2011/05/i-am-poetry-prompt.html.
I plan to use it more than one time this year... as I seek out who "I am."

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The View from the Top

Yesterday I shared a quote on facebook comparing life to a hike. It basically said that when you climb a mountain, chances are your feet will hurt. You can either choose to complain about your feet hurting or you can sing your way to the top.

Life really is like climbing a mountain. We hear it referred to a lot as "being in the valley" (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the sha. dow of death) and then climbing up (I'm climbing up, Lord... up the mountain...) and finally those mountain top experiences.

And it's true. Some days (weeks, months, years) it seems like we are stuck in the dark valley. The wind blows cold and the fog obscures our path.

And the climb... well, it's no fun, either.

But the view at the top... if we can make it.

Today I hiked to Bad Branch Falls in Letcher County. It's got a longer loop, but we didn't have all day, so we decided to just hike to the falls and back. The sign said it was 1.2 miles to the fall.

And it was pretty much all uphill.

The last quarter of a mile I felt like a billy goat climbing over the rocks...

but I didn't complain. Not once... because it was something that I wanted to see.

I had saw pictures of those falls on the internet and knew it would be awesome... so I climbed.

Granted, I stopped a couple of times to catch my breath...

but the sound of the falls in the distance spurred me on.

And awesome they were... sheer majesty as the water spilled over the rocks. I read somewhere it was a 60 foot cliff facing... I just know that standing in those woods, surrounded by evergreens and jaunty rocks, looking at the power of the water spilling in the creek below, I was reminded of how very small and inconsequential so much is.

I am nothing, really.

But God...

My word of this year is "Seek". The past couple of years I've gotten distracted, and focused more on all those inconsequential things. This year, I want to use "seek" as my lens for life... seeking God first. Seeking HIs Will. Seeking His plan as I "find" myself... in Him. Seeking adventure.

And today, as I ambled through those hills, head down to avoid tripping on the roots, I sought Him in nature. I sought Him in beauty.

The climb was rough... but any journey will be.

My legs are sore tonight, and will probably be more sore tomorrow...

but that's just a sign I was working my muscles.

And as I stood and soaked in the view, I felt more like singing than complaining.

"It is well.  With my soul. It is well, it is well, with my soul."

May it be well with yours, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happiness Is...

This evening I had the task of cleaning out my wallet, as the zipper had broken and it was time to retire it.

I often say my life is one hot mess...

that's evident in the number of Diet Coke bottles and McDonalds bags in the floor of my car.

And also the number of recipes sticking in my wallet.

I very rarely carry a purse, and never have cash, so I stick those receipts in the zippered portion since it has my credit card information on it...

which may be why the zipper broke. (I had also had it for almost five years. A fashionista (is that a word?) I am not. Who wants to spend money on purses and wallets when you could be buying books?
(Unless of course, you are one of those people who love you some purses and shoes. My cousin Sawyer Grace is going to be one of those people... at New Year's Eve she had her small purse... complete with three pacifiers. A girl has to be prepared.)

So, as I digress...

As I was cleaning out the wallet I found an old American Eagle rewards card from when Caleb was obsessed with American Eagle. I had my CPR Instructor card that had expired in 2014.

But... tucked away amidst my Food City and Rite Aid and IGA cards was a real gem.

A Barnes and Noble gift card from a couple of Christmases ago..

with $22.26 written on it.

A giddy feeling came upon me.

Surely if that wasn't the actual balance I would have had them throw it away at the register, right?

And, lo and behold, it worked!

It's the little things, folks.

Today, happiness is a Barnes and Noble gift card with a balance on it that you had forgotten about.

A bite of blueberry donut from Dunkin Donuts.

Melody laughing.

Mispronouncing the names in the Bible in 1 Chronicles because you're from Eastern Kentucky and only God really knows how to pronounce them... but knowing that even mispronounced words can't hinder the purpose of God's Word.

A hug from Caleb.

Finishing two miles even though you had to walk them because you're out of shape.

Planning hikes for prettier days.

What's happiness for you today? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Resolve not to Resolve

For the first year in a long while, today really didn't feel that special.

It may have been that I got up at 230 AM and stayed up until 630 AM, which meant I slept until 1030.

Every year on the 1st day of January I resolve to get up early... gonna get in the Word and get out of this funk.

(we all know that isn't going to happen)

Today, though, I rolled out of bed at 1005 and padded into the living room.

Same as yesterday...

I opened up my Kindle and pulled up a devotional to start anew... Praying through the Bible for Your Kids. It follows the One Year Bible reading plan, and goodness knows that I can't get behind.

I got out my brand new notebook and opened up to page one...

a blank page...

just like this year.

Except nothing is really that different.

I decided to stop ignoring the fact that I have a job to go back to next week and started to tackle paperwork that will be necessary when I go back.

A football game was on TV all day long... first the Cats, then Ohio State, then Georgia.

I managed to watch with one eye while I worked.

My to do list is still a foot long...

same as this time three weeks ago.

(The only thing new under the sun was that Kentucky won their New Year's Day bowl, so I guess I can't say it's all the same.)

I laced up my tennis shoes and bundled up and headed outside. The sky was overcast. The dead leaves blew under my feet and gravel crunched as I forced myself to pick up the pace... one minute run. Two minutes walk, Breathe in. Breathe out.

Same as six months ago.

Today really wasn't anything special...

but it's my life. And for the most part, it's a good one. I could get all caught up in the hype of "new opportunities" and "blank pages" and "day 1"...

but this year I'm resolving to be different.

Not resolving that this year will be different, although I desperately want it to be...

but that I will be different.

For so many years, I've been striving to improve...to be better... to be a success in whatever I choose is important.

And yes, I set goals, but they are just that... guiding points.

I don't need to be a better me.

I can't be.

Today was just like any other day...

except I relished in my walk.

I prayed as my feet hit the pavement.

I felt the breeze hit my skin.

I soaked in the words "In the beginning" and gave thanks that Jesus's genealogy has three women with less than perfect backgrounds and one woman who chose to believe that He is faithful.

I thought of who I am- how I really am still not even sure of what that means, much less of what I mean...

but reminded myself that He knows.

And in my resolve not to resolve to anything, I am confident that He is doing a new thing...

in me. And He'll do it in you, too.

The only thing I know for sure about this "new" year is that it truly does have limitless opportunities. Not because we choose to make them (although in many cases we can) but because He has a plan.

This year, I'm doing something different. Oh, I'll be concentrating on new habits and "improvement"... but I'm doing it looking to Him.

There will be struggles. I'll mess up. I'll falter. I'll probably want to throw in the proverbial towel...

but I'm choosing to seek Him, and I know that He's not fond of hide and seek...

He desires to be found.

I'm so looking forward to it...