Friday, November 30, 2012

I made it through NaBloPoMo!!

I have spent the last month participating in the NaBloPoMo challenge to write everyday. May I say, I am so excited that today is the last day of the month?? Because I am. Really.

 And I did it! I wrote a blog post every single day. I think that's pretty good, considering I really had no idea how hard it would be. I really don't know how people with real lives (kids and such) manage it. It's just me and the hubby (and fur babies) and let me tell you, the hubby went without dinner a lot while I typed. Well, to be completely honest, I don't cook as many meals as I should, so I am not sure I can really blame NaBloPoMo for him starving.

So, what did I learn from this experience? Quite a few things, actually.
  • I learned I can do this, and enjoy it. As tiring as it can be to feel so obligated to write everyday, I only had a few days that I really had nothing to say. Those who know me personally won't be surprised to read this, I am not really known for my long silences. ;-)
  • I LIKE writing. I really like it. Experienced bloggers will read this and say "duh? why else would you be writing?" This is a valid question. But the truth is, I started this blog on a whim, without any real research or planning. Up until the moment I decided to do this, I had NEVER considered writing in any fashion. The most I had done was to write prayers, notes to friends, and my (step) dad's and grandmother's eulogies. People who heard or read my words encouraged me to write, but I dismissed them. I didn't (don't sometimes) have confidence in my words. I didn't (don't) really think that my thoughts have value. Then one day I thought, why not? And I did. (This is also how I got engaged, but that is another story)
  • There are a lot of blogs out there. A LOT. On just about every topic imaginable. Some are funny, some are serious. Some are faith based, some are not. There are "mommy" blogs, and life blogs, blogs about loss and blogs about rebirth, blogs about photography and crafting, and some on politics. Literally there is something for everyone.
  •   I think the very best thing about NaBloPoMo is that I have had the chance to connect with some really interesting people and see a small slice of their world through their writing. I tried to leave a comment on every blog I read (operating on the premise that I like comments, so of course they will too) and a few I decided to follow. Again, this was on a whim. Usually it was due to something they said, or maybe just the way their blog looked. If I thought, even for a fleeting moment, that I wanted to see more, I added them to my Google reader.That way I don't have to hunt them up to see what they have to say.
  •  I really like Google reader.
  • I have learned that I really like the "small" blogger best. I mean, there are some really well known bloggers out there who have tons of fans and get hundreds of comments everyday. These are great, and I read some of them. But with the "small" blogger, you can connect in a way that you can never do with someone who gets hundreds or even thousands of comments in a week. And I like that. 
I won't be participating in NaBloPoMo in December. I really have to take some time for some other projects. I have a scrapbook I HAVE to finish (start) for a dear (work) friend who is quitting in 3 weeks to write full time (he is working on his 3rd book). I have a cross stitch I told myself I would finish before Christmas (been working on it for more than 5 years). And I have some books I really want to finish reading. I'm not saying I won't write most days, but I just want to take the pressure of commitment off my shoulders. And I will go over to NaBloPoMo and browse the blogs for new friends and inspiration.

All and all, NaBloPoMo has been an incredible experience....and I am really glad it is done, for now.

this is me :-)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

trying something new....

Okay, I have been playing with my blog, again. When I first started this I had 2 blogs, this one and "Thursday Thankfulness" Then I decided 2 was too much work. Now, I have discovered I can link this one to the other. See it up there in the bar? Will you click on that and read my post? And for all you serious bloggers out there, will you give me some input?

Is there a better way? I really love the concept of a "stand alone" page for Thursday Thankfulness, but is that the best way to go? Should I just close it down and concentrate on this blog? I am so new at this, I just don't know! I need your feedback. Any help or opinions will be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wanna know something funny?

This picture perfectly depicts a conversation that happens at least 3 times a week in my house. Sometimes I am the first cat, my sweet hubby is the second. The conversations go something like this:

 Me (on the computer): hahahahaha! That is TOO funny! See??
actual example
 Him (watching TV): big sigh......pauses TV.......squints at computer screen from his recliner......says "uh huh" and goes back to the TV. About the 5th time this happens ( I am nothing if not persistent!) the sighs get bigger and the squint starts to look more like a glare. Poor guy, sometimes he just doesn't get my crazy sense of humor!

But sometimes it's reversed. Sometimes  it looks like this:

Him (watching something like "World's Dumbest" on TV): Bahhahahaha!! Look at this guy face plant!! Wait, let me back it up, you gotta see this!
Me (typing away on the keyboard, or perhaps reading on the couch, or working on a cross stitch) big sigh.....stop whatever I am doing.....waits with barely concealed impatience while the scene is set.......says "oh, uh huh" or maybe I laugh and roll my eyes. After about the 5th time (he is persistent too) I say "HONEY!" and sigh really big. My thought process is this: If I wanted to see the idiot face plant I wouldn't be on the computer/reading a book/cross stitching. 

Does this happen with all couples? Or is it just us? Now don't get me wrong, I love a stupid video and he loves a good joke. And we love each other. But sometimes we take it for granted, the assurance that we will always have each other. That we will always be able to turn to the other and say "look at this!" So, we don't treat those moments as we should, and sometimes we hurt each other with our indifference.

**I need to tell you, what you just read is not how the post read in my head. It wasn't gonna be a "deep" thought kind of thing. It was just gonna be a humorous peek into my life. And I hope it is. And more than that. Because in typing this I just reminded myself how important he is to me. How much I appreciate his presence in my life. I think I should say God reminded me. I need to value those silly little moments more. I need to respect them and cherish them. I need to remember that love means taking the time from my interests to be interested in his. And he needs to read this post. :-)

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Sarah!!!!

Image source
Happy Birthday to my beautiful niece Sarah! Today's post is dedicated to you. I'm kind of sad about this, to be honest. Your birthday reminds me of how little we know about each other. You are 12 years old today. And I don't think we have shared more than 12 whole sentences between us in your whole life.

Did you know I have a picture hanging in my home of you as a toddler hugging a pooh bear? I love that picture (and not just because I love Winnie the Pooh). I love the sweetness of it, and the fact that you look so much like your mom at that age!

I remember when I got the news of your birth, how excited I was.

I haven't been able to be a real part of your life, due to life's crazy twists and turns. But I have tried to keep up with you and your brother as you have grown. I hope you know that I love you. Even though I barely know you, I do. That's the neat thing about being family. The heart loves, even without the mind's direct knowledge. It just loves.

So, as you go about your day today, accepting birthday wishes and eating cake (please tell me there will be cake???) remember that there is someone far away in a tiny town in Texas who is thinking of you, praying for you, wishing you a beautiful day, and most of all, loving you.

Happy Birthday beautiful!

Image source
P.S. I see from your FB page that you are a Dr. Who fan. I love Dr. Who too!! ;-)

Monday, November 26, 2012

It was only yesterday.....

Well, it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting outside a delivery room in small Texas hospital waiting for my best friend/cousin in-law's first child to be born. Has it really been 22 years? And did said child just tell me last week that she is pregnant?? It can't be so.

But it is so. It really is. wow.

I am terrified. And thrilled. And feeling kind of old. And grateful to be feeling all the above. Because her momma, my best friend and cousin in-law, passed away in 1999. I believe in heaven, and I believe she is there, watching over both her girls and is super proud and excited to be a grandma. But she isn't here. Is it wrong that this makes me grateful that I am? I hope not. I am so grateful to have the chance to be a part of the next generation, to watch another piece of our family grow. And the best part, I get to be an honorary grandma. I think my friend would like that. (One day I am going to tell you about her, just not today)

It was only yesterday that I fell in love with a beautiful baby girl. How can it be that she is all grown up and about to embark on parenthood herself?

Today's life lesson: Time flies, it flies whether you are having fun or not. One minute you are cuddling a baby, the next she is all grown up and telling you (via text!) that she is having a baby of her own. Time flies, folks. So we might as well have some fun.

Me and said child in 1991

and us in 2012, where did the time go??

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday thoughts and some pictures..

It's Sunday, so I guess it's time for my weekly wrap up of blogs, pictures, and quotes that touched my heart this past week.
Let's start with the blogs. After last week's procrastination, I actually made the effort to get the permissions early (which means before Sunday afternoon).

Here is a link to a beautiful blog post titled these small moments by Kate, who writes the blog In Pursuit.
Kate's words in this post are beautiful. She reminds us to live, really live in each moment we are given. This is my favorite line: "Live. Love. Laugh. Cherish. Smile. Remember. Think. Wonder. Aspire. It's never too late to begin living. There is only now. Now to do something of the marvelous." Go read all her words, you won't regret it.

Next I have a thought (and tear) provoking Thanksgiving post from Tara, who writes a blog titled Faith and Ambiguity.
 **Spoiler Alert** when I say tear provoking, I mean it (especially if you are a parent). You have been warned. Get some tissue and click the link. It's worth it. Here is just a small part of her post: "I have to think that any gratitude of meaning would challenge us to do far more. If we are grateful for our wonderful food, what part of it might we share? If we are happy that we have our family, have we welcomed in those who have none?" Very true. Gratitude should be followed by action. I know in my life that is more often than not, not the case. This is something I need to work on.

Okay, I know I have already given you a lot to read, but I have 1 more blog. And it has 5 parts. Bare with me here, because each post is part of a story, a re-imagining of Little Riding Hood and it is a wonderful take on this old favorite, written by Deb over at Kicking Corners
I'm gonna give you a link to each post in order:
I hope you enjoy Deb's work as much as I have.

And now, because I can't resist a good one (or three) here are some quotes!

"Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on its feet." 
 Attributed to Evie Goines (from Twitter)

And one from Aristotle:
 "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies"

Just 1 more:
"Your integrity will always be remembered longer than your prosperity"
 by Emma White 

Moving on to pictures. Lately I have been sharing pictures from my cellphone with you. That's because:
  1. I can, cause it's my blog.
  2. That's just about the only way I take pictures. I want to be one of those people who studies lighting and shutter speed, who has a super high tech camera with multiple lens. But let's face it, I don't have the $ or the patience for that. I am a point and shoot girl, and my cellphone is handy.
Anyway, I have a special treat for you today! Pictures that I did not take. Pictures taken by someone who has the patience and the camera that I wish I had (or do I? I mean, if I can just borrow her stuff??). These were taken by my friend Donna, who graciously gave me permission to share them with you. They were taken at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in Seattle, WA. If you live in the area or happen to visit, I (and Donna) highly recommend you check this place out! It is absolutely beautiful!

look at the lovely flow of the glass

all the incredible colors

I just love the whimsy of this image!

the talent employed here is awesome

 Thank you Donna, for letting me borrow your talent with the camera and share it. And thanks to Dale Chihuly, the artist who created all this beauty.

Also, let me say thank you to Kate, Tara, and Deb for allowing me to share their words. Each of you has a beautiful and unique perspective and I enjoy reading what you each have to say!

I am going to leave you with this great song that made me smile. No, it's not a gospel or contemporary christian song, but a great country song. I know, I know, this is a faith blog. But hey, I have faith that my God loves all kinds of music and loves it even more when a song makes me smile! So here you go: 1994 by Jason Aldean. ;-)

God Bless, and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

You don't have to be normal......

This morning I was at a loss about what to write. Since I took the NaBloPoMo challenge to write everyday, I have to write. Well, maybe not have to, but I have made it this far without missing a day; so yeah, I do have to.

Anyway, I have no idea what to write. So I start going through some old emails from Ted. If you haven't heard of Ted, you really must check it out (click here). This site has an amazing collection of talks on just about every subject imaginable.

What I listened to today was a talk by Faith Jegede.

I really don't want to give you too much detail. I want you to click this link and go listen for yourself. It is powerful and beautiful.

I will give my favorite quote:
"Normality overlooks the beauty that differences give us."

Please, click the link and listen. And then tell me what you think. I hope you are as inspired I am.

Friday, November 23, 2012

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Judgement....we all do it

Okay, so I COULD rant here about one of my biggest pet peeves EVER. That would be judgement. I know we all do it, and why not? It's so easy. You see something you don't understand, a lifestyle or a hairstyle or whatever, and your knee jerk reaction is to judge it. To be critical, to say in your heart (and often times with your mouth) how wrong "that" is.

Like I said, we all do it. I am guilty. Heck, I am guilty when I judge people for their judgements. So, what right do I have to rant about it? None, really.

I came across something in my journal this morning that started me on this train of thought. It was something I wrote down in the days leading up to the presidential elections.

"Christ came to release us from judgement...not only judgement for our sins, but also to release us from the burden of judging others." 

Judging others really is a burden that we are not meant to carry. We are meant to love, to let God's love shine through us. I think one of my all time favorite stories of Jesus is in John chapter 8. The story of the woman found in the act of adultery and basically thrown at Jesus feet for his judgement. And he chose not to.

 "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

We tend to focus on the men who brought her to Jesus and how they slunk away, heads bowed low. Or at least I do. I have never really sat down to think that Jesus is the one person completely sinless in this story (and in my life) and he chose not to judge her. I mean, I know he didn't judge her, it's the point of the story. But I have never really stopped and let the wonder of that action sink in. That choice. Made by the only one who had the right.

I have no more words. The well is dry. And overflowing with wonder (funny how it can be both at the same time)

Just something to think about :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's Thursday and I'm thankful.......

Happy Thanksgiving!!
Can I be honest? I am not feeling the thankfulness. Not at the moment anyway. It's been a tough week emotionally. I am just feeling blah. It doesn't help that my plans for the day got trashed at the last minute. This brought on a storm of tears and a minor anxiety attack....while at work. Not my best moment of the week.

I could give you a list of things that are bugging me. I could give you my sob story. but it's Thanksgiving and really, I want to be thankful. So I am going to count my blessings for just a minute, okay?

Here we go (in no particular order):
  1. I am alive an well
  2. My husband 
  3. I am saved and forgiven
  4. My mom
  5. My dad
  6. My sisters
  7. My nieces and nephews and cousins 
  8. my fur babies
  9. My aunts 
  10. My job
  11. This blog
  12. All the blogs I have found since I started blogging
  13. My friends
  14. 4 day weekend
  15. Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networking sites I have recently connected with
  16. NaBloPoMo
  17. Fanbolt and the reviews I have the chance to write
  18. My love of reading
  19. music
  20. audio books
  21. my computer
  22. The Falling Skies blog! :)
  23. TV shows that inspire my imagination and curiosity
  24. the memories of friends and family that have left this world
  25. you, for taking the time to read my list.
Okay, I feel better now. I am gonna go make a late breakfast and then make some Thanksgiving Day  phone calls, texts, and Facebook posts.

I hope you have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving. Thank you for stopping by to share a little bit of your day with me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

GBE2 picture prompt....and the green eyed monster

Not my "dream" kitchen, but close enough.
This is NOT my kitchen. Not even close.This is the picture prompt for GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience) for this week. My task, should I choose to accept it, is to write whatever I want to about this picture. Now, I can't say I want to to write about this, but I will because it's stuck in my head, screaming to get out. Envy. It's what I feel when I see this picture.

Webster's defines Envy as a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. Yep, I think that covers it. That's my knee jerk response to this picture.

I do not like this. Envy is not an emotional state that I allow to live in my heart. I am not rich, but there are people with a lot less than I have. I know this. I have friends who have been blessed with all manner of material wealth and I am thrilled for them. As a childless middle aged woman, I could waste a lot of time feeling envy while listening to my friends and coworkers talk about the latest thing their kids are into. Or I can choose to feel joy for them. I choose joy. 

So, why do I feel envy when I look at this kitchen? 
  • First of all, it has drawers. See them? Over in the far corner. 2 drawers. Which is 2 more than my kitchen came with. Seriously. Whoever built this trailer in the 1980's didn't think that drawers would be of value in a kitchen. For that matter, there are not any in the bathrooms either, but that's another story. 
  • Second, look at all that counter space! This is something else the designers of my kitchen saw no need for. They obviously knew I am not a fan of cooking, right? 
  • It's so clean. I mean, there is no junk piled anywhere. 
  • Look at that fridge.....
  • And the window...
  • and the floor....
Okay! Enough of that! I think it is safe to say that I am painfully aware of this kitchen and all its glory. I want this kitchen, or one like it. Bad. I could show you my kitchen, but that would just make me feel sad and discouraged, and I have enough to deal with, with all this envy floating around. 

I hope you can read the sarcastic, self deprecating humor here. Because while I do feel a fleeting moment of envy when I look at this picture, it's not all I feel. That moment of envy quickly turns to thankfulness when I realize how blessed I really am. Okay, not in the kitchen department maybe, but in a million other ways. 
  • I have a husband I adore who adores me (most of the time)
  • I have a house full of fur babies who will never need to borrow the car or bail money
  • I have my mom living within 15 miles of my home, alive and well
  • I have my dad, all be it states away in West Virginia, but also alive and well
  • I have friends and family who love me
  • I have you
I may not have a beautiful home, a new car, or a big bank account. But I am blessed. God is good and he has taken excellent care of me. He is good, all the time. And because of that, because of Him and all He has given me, I can say good bye to envy and move on into my day with a joyful heart. And a renewed desire to renovate my kitchen. :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My favorite quotation (today)

This is actually NaBloPoMo writing prompt that I really liked but had not used yet. This is because I have trouble picking a favorite quote. I could probably write about a new quote everyday for a year and still have something to share.
I love words. Words of inspiration, words of comfort, peace; humorous words, words that make me think. My journal is full of quotations that I have picked up from Twitter and Facebook, from the Bible or whatever random book I happen to be reading. I have been know to pause the TV and back it up 1/2  a dozen times to get one of those quotes they use at the beginning and end of Criminal Minds episodes.I do the same thing with music. I will listen to the same song over and over just because a certain verse spoke to me (thank goodness for ear buds).

So to pick an absolute favorite is almost impossible. But I can give you a favorite. One that is attributed to one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis:

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell"

This comforts me. Nothing I do, nothing that anyone does will change the essence of God. He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. No matter how crazy life is, no matter how overwhelming my day to day problems seem, no matter what I think, God is still God. And what even more amazing, He loves me. Through all my doubts and fears, through all my wanderings, He loves me. Why would I ever want to refuse Him, to live in that cell full of darkness? The God of all creation, the author and finisher of ALL things loves me.

Yeah, that comforts and inspires me. It fills my heart with joy. I hope it does the same for you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

When God says No

If you read yesterday's post you may remember that I mentioned a blog or 2 that I wanted to share with you, but I was waiting to hear back from the authors (because I waited until the last minute to ask). Well, I heard from Karen who writes Titus 2 Tea and she very kindly gave me her blessing to share her work with you. :-)

When God Says No

When I read this post it resonated deep in my spirit. Part of that is due to the fact that the child in the story is deaf and speaks by signing. I have always been fascinated  with sign language. I have always wanted to learn, but never seem to have the time or the cash to pay for the classes. One day though. It's on my bucket list.

Anyway, the sign language might have been the hook, but the true meat of her words goes so much deeper. I really want you to click the link above and read the whole thing, but I am going to share the final lines with you:

"God sees my helplessness and frustration, my disappointment.  He says no from a heart of love, eyes full of compassion. It's not that He doesn't listen, not that He doesn't care. He understands there is a greater good, a greater blessing, a protecting action. His love determines His answer."

Wow. His love determines His answer. His love, which is all encompassing, all seeing, all knowing, complete in ways our hearts cannot even comprehend. That is just beautiful.

I have nothing else to say. No more words that can better describe how this touches me, moves me, and gives me peace. So I will just say good night and God bless. I'll see you tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday thoughts and some pictures....

This week I wanted to share a couple of blogs with you, but I didn't send off my requests to the authors until this morning (procrastinate much??) and I have not gotten a response yet. :-(

So, I am just going to go with some of my favorite quotes and pictures from the week. If I hear back from either of the ladies I contacted I will update this post. Or save it for next Sunday, we will see.

I found lots of inspiration on Twitter this week. It's funny, I actually read a tweet at some point this week from someone who said that they wished they could remove all the inspirational "crap" from their feed. First of all, to each his own. But can I just tell you that the inspirational tweets are pretty much the only reason I even get on Twitter. When my feed is full of negative comments, I just shut it down.

Anyway! Here's some of my Twitter inspiration:

"Do not be surprised that what God asked of you yesterday is insufficient for your journey of faith today." Justin Davis
I love that thought, that God expects us to grow.

"The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose is to give it away." Emma White
Find it and give it away, every single day. And the miracle is, the more you give the more you find. :)

"The best thing about today: You don't have to prove yourself to anyone. Just be you." Justin Davis (again)
Just be me, even if me is kind of nuts...I like it!

And here is a good question from Nicole Unice:
"Are you living in a personal vacuum?"
I know I have been guilty of this. Blogging has actually helped me with this, drawing me out of my comfortable shell and making me think and look at the world around me in a new (and I hope better) light.

Here's some stuff I found on Facebook:

"He is not limited by the natural, He has supernatural power. When you consider God instead of your circumstances, amazing things can happen." Joel Osteen 

Let me be filled with you Lord.

 "God can open doors no man can shut" Unknown

And here are a couple of scriptures that just reached out and grabbed me:

"The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old." Proverbs 8:22

 "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, 
O' Lord." Psalm 89:15

This past week was a rough one at work. On Monday we found out that a coworker had found her son dead the morning before (last Sunday). This pretty much rocked everyone. I personally cannot imagine coming back from that. I'm not sure anyone who hasn't been through it can. This verse has been on my mind when I think of my friend and has become kind of my prayer for her and her family:
"Thus the Lord God has said...In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15

And finally I wanted to share just a couple of pictures I took this week with my cellphone.

Random beauty from my front yard.

View down my street. Look at that sky!

From Saturday while wandering around at my mom's

This one too.

Diva, queen of the dirty clothes

Maggie Mayhem and Sassy, queens of everything else!

*If you want to see more of my random pics, you can follow me on Instragram  (that would just make my day) 

Okay, I think that's it for now. I hope you found something here that blessed you, made you think, or just plain made you smile.

OH! Here is one last thing that made me laugh out loud:

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Our story, the beginning

After reading so many other blogs lately I have the urge to try to share story of "us". The story of when and how I met my sweet husband and our journey thus far. It's not a romantic epic, at least not to anyone except us. And on the surface it won't seem to fit in a blog about my faith and walk with God. But it is a story of my longest running and deepest friendship with another human being, of my first love (even before I knew the love of God) and how that helped to shape me. To shape us together. So I hope you will bare with me while I tell our story. And I hope it makes you smile just a little. :-)

My very first memory of him is of those big beautiful brown eyes looking at me from across the lunch room table. I think he was asking for something off my tray, mashed potatoes or a slice of pizza or something. I don't know. I only remember those eyes. I fell in love with those eyes.

I was 11 years old and just starting in a new school in a new town. A shy girl with braces and a terrible haircut, the new girl in a small town. That meant for a few weeks I was the most popular girl in the 6th grade. Which is terrifying for a shy kid. So, when this adorable boy asked me to "go with" him, I panicked. And I lied. It was so silly and so stupid. I said I couldn't because I had made a bet with my (step) dad that I wouldn't have a boyfriend until I was 12. The bet was for a quarter. Yes, for $0.25 I was going to remain boyfriend free. See, stupid. I really had no imagination. At least not one that worked well under pressure!

**I feel like I should explain "going together" for those not familiar with the term. Do they even still say that? Gosh, I feel old. Basically, "going together" was pointing at a boy across a crowded room and proclaiming "that's my boyfriend". Maybe you might sit together at lunch or hold hands in the hallway sometimes, but that's pretty much it. Hey, we were in Junior High!**

He believed me (silly boy). But that didn't stop him from asking me to kiss him in the hallway outside homeroom. In front of about 100 people. Okay, maybe more like 4, but it might as well have been 100 in my mind. He was standing by the lockers at the end of the hall outside homeroom (Mrs. Closs's  class for anyone who knew us then). He was actually standing on a little ledge, putting him on a level with me (did I mention he was shorter than me??) I refused. And ran away, embarrassed beyond words. This remains one of my greatest regrets...

Fast forward to the 7th grade. I am 12 and the cute boy with the beautiful brown eyes asked me to go with him again, pointing out that my bet had been won so I had no reason to say no. So I said yes. Unfortunately for me, there was another new girl in our class and he asked her too. And she said yes too, so he dumped me! I will never forget it, her name was Michelle and we had gym class together. Another girl clued us both into the fact that we had the same boyfriend . When I walked out of the girls locker room he was waiting in the weight room, Just standing there; and I knew by the look on his face who he had picked. This was my very first heart break.

 Then, as usually happens when you're 12, she dumped him after a few weeks (his first heart break). But I had moved on, at least for a little while. I can't remember the specifics, but eventually we circled back and ended up "going together" again. And breaking up, and getting back together (this was pretty much our pattern for the next 7 years). I do remember him giving me a velvet rose one year (7th grade maybe) for Valentine's Day. I remember this because I was embarrassed by the attention and inadvertently hurt his feelings by barely reacting at all. His cousin gave me serious grief for this. She was my friend and really more of a sister than cousin to him. Over the years she mediated a lot of misunderstandings between us.

That's all I am going to share for now. Maybe next weekend I will tell you about our high school years and how I became a crazy stalker long before we knew what a stalker was. Or maybe not, It's not a story that reflects well on me. We'll see.

In the meantime here are a couple of pictures of us from those formative years. :)

See, a terrible haircut!
Ok, his haircut isn't so great either, but look at those eyes!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Important numbers

Okay, today I am attempting to tackle the writing prompt "Numbers" from GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience 2).

At first I thought I might share with you how much I dislike math, how I struggled with it in school. How anything more that the simplest addition or subtraction requires a pen and paper at the very least, and another person with a calculator if I can swing it. But after more thought I decided I would tell you about the numbers that are important to me. Not my bank balance or my years to retirement mind you, because the 1st one is depressing and I don't think the 2nd one will ever happen. But the really important numbers. The ones that shape who I am.

I was 13 years old when I got saved and baptized.
I was 11 years old and in the 6th grade when I met my husband. I had just started a new school in a new town. I will never forget those beautiful brown eyes and quick smile. He was such a charmer!
I was 20 when we married.
0 is for the number of children we have. This number used to make me sad, but I am at peace with it now.
I have 4 parents. Both my step mom and step dad have passed away now, but they are still mine. Forever and always.
I have 2 beautiful younger sisters on my dad's side.
I have 0 siblings on my mom's. This means it's all on me, which is really scary sometimes.
I have 4 nieces and 4 nephews who I don't see as often as I like.
I have 2 cousins by marriage that I tend to think of as nieces. They are the daughters of my best friend growing up, who just happened to be my husband's cousin. She was 28 when she was killed in a car accident. Her death forever changed me in ways I could have never imagined.
16 is for the number of years I have been with my current employer. I will likely be there until I die or they throw me out.
I have 3 aunts, my dad has 1 sister and my mom has 2.
I have 3 cousins on my dad's side and 3 on my mom's. I am not close to any of them though. I envy people who have close contact and strong friendships with their cousins.
0 is for the number of living grandparents. My maternal grandmother passed away earlier this year. This number makes me sad.
924 is the number of page views this blog has had since I started it in late August. I tell myself this number doesn't matter, but it really does. Why write a blog if you aren't looking to share it with the world??

Okay, that's it. The numbers of greatest importance to me. The ones that most shape the person I am, that have the greatest impact on who I want to be.

So, if you stuck with me to the end, how about sharing some of your important numbers with me? :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Thursday and I'm Thankful......

Today I am thankful for thankfulness. For the attitude of gratitude. For the act of counting your blessings, naming them one by one (do you remember that children's song?).

It's November and if you are on Facebook much you may have noticed there is a lot of gratitude floating around out there. At least there is on my news feed. Lots of my friends and family sharing the things they are thankful for. And it just makes my heart smile.

I love reading the simple, the silly, and the serious gratitude statements. Friends who are grateful for parents and children, morning coffee and afternoon wine. I love how the act of giving thanks, of reading the thanksgiving of others can lift my spirits. So today I wanted to share with you some of my favorites from my news feed.

These are from my sister Dawn:
  • I am thankful for the time I had with my mom in the weeks before she passed away and thankful that I was able to be by her side holding her hand as she passed away. It took a long time for me to see the second part as a blessing but it honestly was.
  • I am thankful for my bed! I've missed my bed since I got out of it this morning...thankfully it's about time we rekindle our relationship.
  • I am thankful that my children live in a world where their future is determined more by their actions and decisions and less by the color of their skin, the way they look and their sexual orientation. They can be anything they want to be and I hope we are teaching them to chase their dreams and work hard for what they want. 

The following are from the 3 beautiful daughters of my friend Aimee. I have never met these girls, but I love them. I love the way their precious little minds and hearts see the world. (Alexandra is 6, Victoria is 4, and Francesca is 3)
  • Alexandra is thankful for:
    •  my brother, Joey
    •  the zoo
    •  I can read! :)
    •  Thanksgiving turkey
  • Victoria is thankful for:
    •  Cinderella and Disney
    •  the color blue
    •  rose petals
    •  bells
  • Francesca is thankful for:
    •  rainbows
    •  Christmas trees
    •  cows
    •  Momma
And finally we have my friend Veronica, who has a way of making me really stop and think about how I view the world around me.
  • I am thankful for difficult work because the difficulty brings growth and positive change. Without challenges the breaks could not fully be appreciated, and I do so appreciate the breaks. :)
  • I am thankful for time. Time to learn and grow. Time to change and stay the same. Time to forgive and love. Time to remember and have peace. Time to be and appreciate. Time to be thankful for time.
  •  I am thankful for so many things. I would like to become thankful for everything, even those events in my life which make me scratch my head and wonder why. So tonight I am thankful for sadness that brings out the beauty of special friendships. :)

As for myself, I am thankful for the chance to share the uniqueness and beauty of these ladies with you.  I am grateful that through Facebook I can be blessed and uplifted by their words. It is an incredible gift, this ability to peek into the hearts and minds of people who have become so special to me. So, thank you Dawn, Aimee, and Veronica for giving your permission for me to borrow your words. And thank you for touching my heart. I love you all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crockpot lids and temper tantrums

You know what the good thing about being married is? You have someone to come home to, someone to share the ups and downs of life with, someone who loves you even when you are not at your best.

Know what the bad thing is? They get a front row seat to your worst moments. You know, those crazy, stupid moments when you just lose your mind and say and do things that most people who know you would never believe came from YOU.

I had one of those moments last night. It was completely stupid and totally avoidable. It was all about the crockpot. Specifically, the lid to the crockpot. It was 9 pm and I had just remembered that I needed (wanted really) to put some chicken on to cook so I could use some for my lunch today. I should have done this when I got home at 4:30. But I was more interested in the TV, dinner, the computer, a bath, a get the picture, right?

So, it's 9 pm and I am in full on panic mode because I left the water running in the tub and "I HAVE to get the chicken in the crockpot NOW". I could have gone and turned off the bath water, but that thought didn't enter my mind, and when my hubby suggested it I wasn't real receptive. I got the crockpot out of the pantry, but the lid isn't there. The lid is ALWAYS there. That's where I keep it. ALWAYS.

"Mother EXPLETIVE" I say, loudly. Very loudly. While rummaging through the shelves looking for the lid I am sure my (innocent) husband put in the wrong place. And to top it off the (innocent) man is ignoring me. So I repeat myself. And he says nothing. So I get louder. And he finally responds, but not as I think he should. He basically tells me to calm down and LOOK for the stupid lid because I must have put it someplace else. Which of course is not true. I would NOT do this. I ALWAYS put the lid with the crockpot. ALWAYS. I tell him this, and not very sweetly. I don't actually say I think he lost my lid, but the implication is there. And I AM LOOKING for the EXPLETIVE lid. It's not here.

And then I see it. Sitting on top of the microwave. Where my husband did not place it. I did. Because the handle broke and I was intending to fix it. Which I never did. CRAP.

I didn't apologize. I should have. Right then and there. And I might have if he hadn't said those 4 little words no man should ever say to a pissed off woman. I TOLD YOU SO. No he did NOT. So, no apology.

I feel really bad about that. Because none of this was his fault. I was tired, and lazy, and really would have survived just fine without chicken for lunch today (it's cheap pizza day at the pizza place next door after all). And I am supposed to be better than this. I am a born again christian woman, a believer and a follower of God. I am supposed to be better. But I am not. What I am is forgiven. By God, and I hope by my husband. Both of them deserve better from me.

So, James, I am sorry. I am so sorry I snapped at you and cussed at you, and I am sorry I didn't apologize in the moment. I am sorry too for all the other times over the years when I didn't say I am sorry when I was. Thank you for loving me, for always forgiving me for being a crazy woman. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What is the bravest thing you've done?

That is the NaBloPoMo writing prompt for today.

What is the bravest thing I've ever done?

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was writing this blog. I never saw myself as a writer. I have been reading so many blogs by people who have always had the drive, the desire to write. That is not me. This is a completely new thing for me. And it has grabbed hold with a vengeance and will not let go.

The next was my marriage. Sticking it out through the tough times instead of giving up. If you have ever been married, you know what I mean. **And before I hurt anyone's feelings, I am not saying that divorce is giving up. Not for anyone but me. I know that sometimes it's the only option. Sometimes things are not fixable, no matter how hard you try. We all have our own path, our own story, I am not here to judge anyone's story , I just want to share mine.

But I really think, if I stop and think about it, that the bravest thing I have ever done is to seek and follow (to the best of my ability) the heart of God. His heart, his desire for my life is leading me into new territory every day. This blog for one. Being married is definitely one. Singing with my church's praise and worship group is another. I NEVER thought I would stand on that platform with a mic in hand and sing. But this past summer after a service in which most of the group was unable to attend I followed God's nudge and offered to help. Been on that platform ever since. It terrifies me, right up until the music starts. Then God steps in. I don't know how I sound or look, but I don't care. At least in that moment. Because it isn't about me, it's about Him.

Prayer is another path He is leading me down. I have a Facebook prayer group and I manage a prayer group at work (how completely cool is that???) and a few times God has moved me to just go to someone and ask to pray for them. Talk about scary. I always feel this overwhelming fear of looking stupid and being rejected. But not once has that happened. I believe that is because I am following the leading of God.

Yeah, following God is the bravest, scariest, most beautiful thing I have ever done. I think I am gonna keep doing it....

Monday, November 12, 2012

early Monday morning thoughts and prayer

It's 5:15 am and I am in front of the computer. Why? Because it's quiet in the house at this hour. Quiet is sometimes hard to find around here. We don't have kids, so I can't blame them. See, our house is small, and our computer literally sits next to the TV. Right next to it. And if my husband is conscious, the TV is on. Even if he isn't really watching it.

I don't do this. If I have something I want to watch, I sit down and watch it. Otherwise the TV is off because it is way too distracting. I have a one track mind, and the bright moving pictures and babble are compelling, even if I am not interested in what is being said.

Another reason I am up early to write is guilt. I have been spending a lot of time on this computer writing lately. And I feel guilty. James spends all day here alone, then I come home and sit down at the computer and try to focus. This means ignoring him.

If you don't know us you may be wondering why James spends all day alone. What about a job? Doesn't he see people when he goes to work? There is a story there, and I want to tell it. But not today. I don't have that much time this morning. That's definitely a weekend post. Or 2. Plus, I want his permission since it's his story. The short answer is that his job is managing my mom's storage rental business and taking care of her property. And this job doesn't really involve a paycheck, per say. Another story. I promise to write it soon. And get permission to share.

Anyway, I am up early and my husband is heavy on my mind at heart. He did the sweetest thing when he came to bed this morning. Yes, this morning. He doesn't sleep much. This may not have been his first trip to bed, I could have slept through 15 attempts at sleep. I sleep hard, he barely sleeps. Anyway....this time when he crawled into bed he reached out and placed his hand on my arm and prayed for me. Not out loud. But after 20 years of marriage, I know his prayer when I feel it. And right now I feel covered in grace. And love. That's a pretty great way to start a Monday.

Lord, be with James today. Pour blessings and mercy over his heart and soul. Draw him close to your side and protect him from harm. Thank you, Father, for bringing this man in to my life, for making him my helpmate, lover, and friend. I would also ask a special blessing on all who come visit here today and read these words. Meet whatever needs they have buried in their hearts, bless their families and all the work of their hands. Thank you for the potential for a beautiful, busy day. Thank you for loving us all. Amen

My helper this morning. Silly girl. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday thoughts and some pictures

Last Sunday I started something that I would really like to see become a habit. I am going to call it "Sunday thoughts". Basically this is going to be a wrap up of the previous weeks inspiration. Pictures, quotes, other blogs, anything I saw that inspired me, made me think, laugh, smile, or cry I want to share with you. I hope this is a habit I can stick to and that it will be a blessing to you.

I found 2 blog posts today that really touched my heart. The first is written by Trinka Polite and is titled Breathe...
 I hope you will click the link and read the whole thing, but I want to share my favorite line:

My other grandmother told me that’s how I came to be. 
God took my body and in it He breathed.   

So when you inhale and exhale notice your breath 

and realize God is dwelling in your chest.

God is dwelling in my chest. The gift of life is so precious and is something I tend to take for granted. I really want to remember to just slow down and breath.

The second blog I wanted to share is written by Ashley McKenney and is titled Come Away with Me (as NJ says) 
Please click the link. This blog is full of some really beautiful images. And Ashley has some really good insight into finding balance between being a parent and being a person. I think a lot of my "mommy" and "daddy" friends will appreciate her words.
Now, can I share with you some pictures from my phone?
Of course I can, cause it's my blog!

 Yesterday we were out at my mom's place and while my hubby worked, I wandered around taking pictures. I do this a lot and my mom just shakes her head at me. She doesn't get it. :-)
I love this place. I was raised here and one day I want to move back, if my stubborn parent will permit it. 
I love this image, the contrast of colors just speaks to my heart. God made this simple thing and created it with so much care and beauty. It blesses me.

This is my sweet husband mowing on the tractor. He really got a lot more than he bargained for when he fell in love with me, because I am a complete momma's girl. He will never escape my never ending drive to be there for mom. And he takes it in stride. Sometimes I think he loves her more than I do. He is a great helpmate and son in law. 
I saved this screen shot of a text message between me and my hubby a while back. It makes me smile every time I stumble across it. He really gets me. Route 44 Sonic drinks are a great weakness of mine, I can't pass one without wanting to stop. He gets that. He gets me. How awesome is that? 

 This is one of my many fur babies, Tom-Tom.
Isn't he beautiful? 

Here are a few quotes I picked up around the web this week:

 "I start in the middle of a sentence and move both directions at once." -John Coltrane 

"People who make you laugh are the best people in the world" -Emma White

 "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers" -Jose Narosky

"If we learn to be amazed at what God has done and is doing in our lives, we will never be without hope" -Joyce Meyer

and my favorite this week:

"Follow me and I will make you fishers of the human soul" -Jesus Christ
(from "The Book of God" which is the Bible written as a novel. I love this spin on the traditional "fishers of men")

The last thing I want to share I got from a Facebook friend. I won't use her name here, to protect her privacy. But I just had to share her thoughts with you. If you are a "facebooker" you know that during the month of November a lot of folks try to post a daily thankfulness thought. I saw tons today about being grateful for our Veterans (it's Veterans Day today) and that is wonderful. We should all always be grateful for those who put their lives on the line for our freedom. But my friend had something a little different to say:
DAY 11: I guess I could take the easy way out and say I am thankful for our vets and I am but instead I want to say today I am thankful for all the people who love them and are left behind to worry about them...I am thankful for the ones they come home to ... more times than not the vet that comes home is not the same person that left.. these people have to stay strong and learn to love all over again sometimes a whole new thank you family and loved ones you are also my heroes

okay, that's it for this Sunday. I hope that something here has blessed you, inspired you, made you think, or just made you smile. God bless!

Photo Book

I have been working for ages on a memorial photo book for a friend who passed away last year and I FINALLY printed 2 copies to send to his wife today. I have at least 4 more to print and even with the Groupons I have found it gets expensive. So when I realized I could get a $10 gift card for posting this to my blog, I had to jump on that!! :)                                                                 

You'll love Shutterflys award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

where does my validation come from?

This is a question that has been rattling around in my head/heart for a few weeks now, I just haven't taken the time to put it into words. But it's quiet in the house this morning and I have caffeine in hand (Diet Dr Pepper is my caffeine of choice) so I thought I would give it a shot. 

First let's look at the definition according to Bing

1. confirm truthfulness of something: to confirm or establish the truthfulness or soundness of something
2. law make something legal: to declare or render something legal or binding "validate a passport"
3. register something formally: to register something formally and have its use officially sanctioned
4. make somebody feel valued: to make somebody feel valued as a person, or feel that his or her ideas or opinions are worthwhile
I would like to focus on #4.

Validation is the act of making somebody feel valued: to make somebody feel valued as a person, or feel that his or her ideas or opinions are worthwhile.
Not too long ago I read an article online about teens and social networking. It startled me to realize how much of a kid's self esteem is tied to whether or not they get enough "likes" on their pictures or status updates on social networking sites. Some will attend parties just to be able to take pictures and post updates showing their presence on the scene. Like I said, it startled me. And made me think...
Am I really so different from these kids? I will admit it gives me a thrill every time I see a "like" or a comment to something I post on Facebook (my social media of choice). And since I have been dabbling with Twitter, I find myself hurt when strangers don't respond to the tweets I send them. And then there is this blog. If I could I think I might send out a virus to every computer owned by every person I know that would open a link to my blog automatically when I post something and then the window wouldn't close until they had read it AND posted a comment. (let's be glad I am NOT capable of this.)
As I am writing this I am glancing at my other screen, (yes, we have 2, my hubby did it. I thought it was crazy, but now I use it more than he does)  monitoring my Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. This cannot be healthy. But I can't seem to stop. I crave the status updates and comments, I can't seem to risk missing a single email. I am sick. Sicker than those kids, because at 41 I know better.
 I am seeking my validation in all the wrong places. Now, don't get me wrong, social media has it's place and short of a zombie or alien apocalypse (or the 2nd coming) I think it's here to stay. And it has it's uses. I have reconnected with old friends and been able to keep up with family in ways that were impossible before. I have found great sources of inspiration and humor online. I have read words that really made me think and see my world in a new way. All because I have an internet connection. 
But I have a deeper connection inside me. One that isn't contingent on my ability to pay my phone bill. I have a direct line to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He loved me so much that he gave me the ultimate validation before I breathed my 1st breath. He gave his precious son for me, to wash me clean and give me a second chance to live this life in His light. Talk about making someone feel valued. 
I would like to ask you to pray for me. Pray that I will remember this truth, and that it will grow in my heart and shape how I use the internet and social media. Because I don't think I am meant to turn off the computer and walk away. I think that I am doing some good here, that I am following God's will for my life. But I need to find and maintain my balance. I need to remember where my heart lies. Where my true validation lies.