Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z Is For Zoo

I love the zoo.  Always have.  I've been to the one closest to me a bunch of times (including for my 25th birthday), but the time that cracked me up the most was when Amber and I decided to go.  (Well, more like I begged Amber to go, and she finally relented.  But let's not worry about the details.)  Everything was going just fine, until we decided to pet the stingrays.
Let's just say that the stingrays did not receive a stellar review from someone.  They were more than a little slimy.
 Here are a few other pictures to round things out.  I've had such a good time doing the A to Z Blog Challenge, but it will also be nice to go back to my regularly scheduled blogging.  I'm so appreciative of those people who have followed me over the last month.  I hope you'll keep reading!

Y Is For Young and In Love

Why yes, I did get up at 3:00 AM to watch every minute of coverage of the Royal Wedding!  Here's the proof:
 I know I could have DVR'd it.  But I wanted to be a witness to the live event, so I got up and quickly realized that I could take pictures on Dad's big screen that made it look like I was there in person.  See? (People and every news outlet in the world also had amazing pictures, too.)

 You don't have to be a royal watcher like me to agree that now-Princess Catherine certainly looked the part.  The dress could not have been more perfect and the tiara--I was completely wowed to say the least!  I was so caught up in the fairy tale that I could barely contain myself.  But someone said on one of the countless hours of coverage that this is better than a fairy tale because it's real.  They are just two people in love, who happen to have a little extra pomp and circumstance on their big day.  They have been together for almost ten years, have lived together and apart.  They are so much better off than Charles and Diana, and I suspect they will have a much happier story overall.  And my friends (Mer, Matt, Al and Ann of The Today Show) agreed. 
 During his sermon the Archbishop of London said that all weddings are royal because we are all children of the Creator.  What a beautiful thought!  You can say what you want about monarchies, about the opulence or waste of a wedding in financial times like these.  But perhaps what we all needed was to take a few minutes to focus on 'Once upon a time..' leading to a 'happily ever after.'  I don't think we can ever go wrong with the reminder that love exists, even when titles and crowns aren't attached.  (Plus, you know, Harry's still hot and available...)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Those Who Blog Together, Volume 2: School

I'm late to the party this week!  I've been off my game because we've been out of school, which lucky for me is the topic for this week of synchoblogging. 

Since I started at the age of four (almost five), there hasn't been a year of my life where I wasn't in school.  I went from grade school to high school to college to teaching, almost 26 years all together.  I loved being in school because I have always been a teacher's pet kind of kid.  (People pleasers unite!)  I got away with things because of it.  I will admit here and now that I did call that girl a b*tch in the sixth grade, but when the teacher said I would never say something like that I just smiled.   I mean, as a senior, my favorite teacher gave me the keys to her car and let me run errands for her during school.  Teacher's Pet was my senior superlative, people! 

When it came to college, I had no clue what I wanted to be, but I knew I didn't want to be a teacher.  (Isn't it funny how life works.)   I'd had a change of tune by sophomore year and knew teaching was what I was meant for.  I love teaching, especially middle schoolers, and can't imagine my life any other way.  (Well, okay, I can imagine myself as Princess Kate, but that's a post for another time.)

Can't wait to see what everyone else has to say! 

X Is For eXtra Special!

I'm sorry I've been off the blogging grid, but I have a hard time blogging when I don't have my usual set up at home.  After spending three nights at my parents, I am back in my house.  I have to take the long way around, but I am able to get to and from my house.  We haven't had school since Tuesday because there are just too many people that can't get there.  It's been insane, but I'm thankful that we are all safe.  My cousin and his wife live in Tony, Alabama and were in the path of the horrible tornadoes in that state.  Their house received major damage, but they were thankful to be able to walk away.  Just a block over some people weren't as lucky.  I'm certainly thinking of and praying for all of the people affected by the tornadoes and flooding.

But on to today's actual topic...Yesterday was such an eXtra special day.  It was Uncle James' 57th birthday.  He's doing very well now, and it was certainly a day to celebrate!  The sweet CCU nurses brought in balloons and a HUGE cake, there were all manner of cards and flowers, but that's not the best thing by far.  His two excellent therapists got him in a wheelchair and took him outside for the first time in 95 days.  It was a glorious day, and to sit in the sunny breeze for even a few minutes was amazing for him!  But that's not even the best part.  When they got back to the room, the therapists helped him stand and he was able to give Aunt Beth a hug for the first time since this whole ordeal began.  We were all crying and I was so glad to be able to be there and see it.  Miracles happen every day, but you only get to see them once in a while.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W Is For Wednesday Hodgepodge - 4/27

1.  What is something that bothers you if it is not done perfectly?

       Very little bothers me if it isn't done perfectly.  I do like pictures to be on the wall straight.  Vocal performances really bother me if not done well, outside of karaoke.  I like for people to use grammar correctly in professional settings.  Overall, I'm not that hard to please.

2. What is one of your best childhood memories?
      I've shared several, but I always loved going fishing as a kid.  Sometimes I would go with my dad.   My favorite is when my distant cousin, Bart, would come to town and hang around the farm with me. 

3. Do you plan to watch the Royal Wedding and when was the last time you wore a hat?
     I will watch as much of it as I can, since I have to work on Friday.  I'm really excited about it, though!  I like hats, especially fancy "derby" hats, but I have a hard time finding them to fit my giant head.

4. Where do you fall in the birth order in your family? Do you think this has influenced your personality?
     I'm the oldest of three.   I totally think it influences my personality.  I like to be in control of situations and I can be bossy.  I also tend to be very maternal, which probably comes from having a sister that's so much younger than me.

5. Where do you think you spend most of your money?
     Currently, it feels like I should say on gas.  But really, I probably spend more at WalMart and/or Kroger, because my car is fairly easy on gas and I don't have to drive very far to work.

6. When you need to confront someone would you rather communicate in person, on the phone, by email or by letter? Why?
     I'm much better in writing.  I think that's a little cowardly, but I like being able to choose my words carefully.   When I get really irritated with something, I have been known to confront someone in person.  But that takes me at my higest levels of angry.  (And I have a long fuse about most things.)

7. Dodge ball, freeze tag, kickball or jump rope? You have to pick one.
     I'm going to have to go with dodgeball.  I vaguely remember being good at it, unlike jump rope.  I was actually much better at hockey.

8. I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do today, since I was up at the crack of dawn, even though I don't have to go to work.  I have the feeling that it's going to include watching a lot of cable TV, since I don't have it at my house.  Wonder if I can catch an airing of Swamp People?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V Is For Valor

Welp, it's still raining and the water is still rising.  I was going to be brave and wait it out in my own house, and then I actually saw the water.  And talked on the phone with Sheena, who reminded me that she didn't have a boat to come get me.  So, I packed up my suitcase, left plenty of food and water for Lilah (who can't come with me to Mom and Dad's and will be safe and dry in my house), and ran like a baby to my parents'.  I wasn't brave.  I had no valor.  But I did have pizza and someone to watch Glee with.  (However, it's possible that I have grown to accustomed to no one talking while I'm trying to watch TV.)  This is where you will find me until something changes, like the water levels on the road to my house.  They've even closed the school for at least tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I do have to brag about my daddy.  In two days, he and his team of workers (mostly students) have filled 22,000 sandbags.  Yep. That's twenty-two THOUSAND.  And what's really sad is that there is still a need for more.  He will go back tomorrow and do more but the river is heading for records.  When you turn on the national news and they are talking about your area, you know it's not good. 

I'm thankful that my house will most likely be safe.  My parents' house is high and dry.  (Dad always used to say that if our house flooded, everybody was in trouble.)  But tonight, I am thinking about the people who are being forced from their homes knowing that they may not have anything to come back to next week.  I'm thinking about governors who would rather they let towns flood than farmland.  I'm thinking about a river that has no intention of stopping.  And I'm thankful for a God who sees and knows, even when we don't understand why.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U Is For Under Water

I worried about what I was going to write about in these final days of the Blog Challenge, but Mother Nature seems to be ripe with topics.  Right now, we are dealing with some major flooding issues here.  We've had more rain in a few days than we are supposed to get in two months, and there's still another five to seven inches in the forecast.  The good news is that we have at least had a chance to get prepared this time.  A couple of years ago (before I was a blogger), it rained 13 inches in one night and I ended up hip deep in flood water trying to get things out of my grandmother's apartment in the middle of night.  It looks like that scenario is going to be avoided, and I'm certainly not sad about it.  For not living on the flood plain, we've had a lot of experience with high water.

When you talk about floods, everyone uses the Flood of 1937 as the benchmark, such as "Oh that didn't flood, not even in '37."  Currently, the Ohio will be above the 1937 flood marks by next week.  It's more than a little scary.  I'm thankful that I live in a house that didn't flood in '37 or even a couple of years ago, but I know that everyone is not as lucky.  (And even I packed a suitcase, just in case I'm not able to get back home and need to stay at my parents' house.)  It's going to be a very tense few days around here until the weather settles down and the water starts to recede.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Prayer Monday - April 25, 2011

  • On Easter weekend, first and foremost, I am thankful that I serve a Risen Savior! 
  • I got to go see Uncle James this morning and he looks so much better than the last time I was there!  He's breathed on his own for a week now, can talk, and doesn't have any chest tubes anymore!  They hope to move him into progressive care over the next week.  Your prayers are still appreciated, but he has come so far, and never would have been able to without the touch of God.
  • One of the girls I have been praying for delivered a perfectly healthy baby boy last week.  Mama is good, too.
  • As  I sit at my desk, I am watching flood waters rise. My house will be okay, but I know a lot of others won't be, as the rain is to continue for several more days and the rivers are going to crest close to or above all time records.  Please pray for all those affected by this wet spring.
  • For a friend and for her father, whose health is deteriorating rapidly.  She lost a son five years ago to cancer and her husband is deployed overseas. 
  • For my friends who are still expecting babies, including Tara (who will be home soon! yay!)
  • For the personal request I mentioned last week.  I am still believing that God's going to show up in a big way!
  • For Lucy, because I wish no one had cancer, but especially wish kids didn't.

Father, I can't begin to gather every request I have come across this week.  The needs of Your people are many, but You are big enough to be small enough.  Thank You for dying on the cross for me, but thank You for rising again that much more.  I don't serve a Savior in the tomb, but one who is alive and well!  Be with each of the girls this week.  Move in ways that speak to our hearts.  Amen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

S Is For Sheena and T Is for Tara

You get a double post today because the storms knocked out my internet last night and I didn't have a chance to get this post together before then.  You're welcome.

S is for Sheena.  Sheena, Crys, and I have been friends since the dawn of time.  Okay, really more like since around 2000, but that's what it feels like.  I actually have known Sheena longer than that because she was friends in high school with one of my cousins.  But I digress.  Sheena is the hyper-organized big sister that I didn't get biologically.  But our friendship was totally of God.  (How else would three girls with such strong wills have stayed friends this long?)
 I used some of these pictures the last time I dug through my picture archives, so I'm pretty sure she won't kill me because of them.  (I've only picked the fabulous ones because she has a blog of her very own and just as many oldies!)
 Sheena is our piano player when we sing, because she has that annoying combination of talent and skill.  She plays most things using guitar chords and fills in the rest with Floyd Cramer licks.  She's the one who is classically trained, and it's always fun to have someone around who actually knows what they are doing instead of just kind of making it up (like me).
 This is probably one of my very favorite pictures of Sheena, not because of the quality but because of the memory.  We had a dance party in the basement at her soon-to-be in-laws, and when we took a break, she collapsed in this chair.  I always laugh when I am with the girls, but that night just stands out.
 Sheena has a love for Hello Kitty that is almost unhealthy for someone in her 30s, but it's those kind of things that I love most about her.  Sheena is the friend that steps up when you are in crisis, does all of the things you can't think of doing, and then takes you shopping or for cookies.  Or both.
 She also has her very own business, Versatile Vocalists, which was a true labor of love to get off the ground last spring.  The building she was in what in need of an overhaul and Sheena was able to envision it and make all of her dreams of a studio come true.  (You can read all about it here and here.)
 Sheena's getting married this fall to her Precious.  They have been together since the dawn of time, too, even though their relationship originally started as a practical joke to mess with Crys.
 They are full of love and understanding and, of course, good senses of humor.
 Sheena has been the calmest bride ever, partly due to the fact that she is organized and partly because either way, she'll be married at the end of the day.  I can't wait for it myself, and I'm sure that you will be sick of hearing about it by the time the wedding gets here.  Love you, friend!

T is for Tara.  I have actually known Tara since she was in high school (that's right, I went back to the archives for you, too, my friend).
 She graduated with Crys's younger brother and that was really the extent of my knowledge of her for a while.  However, it didn't take me very long to decide that I liked her style.  There have been many a conversation had on the patio while she smoked a cigarette and we talked.  At the time, it was probably because we were the only two girls in the room who could carry on a conversation (Amber excluded), but I'd like to think it was also because we knew we were going to be great friends one day as well.
 Back in 2008, Tara offered Amber and I a place to stay as we embarked on our first road trip.  She was stationed in Charleston at the time, and we took up up on it.  I am so glad we did! 
 We had a great stay hanging out on the beach and playing with Tara's fur-baby, Spencer.  (Though I will never forget the time Amber and I let him out when Tara was at work, and then immediately put him back up because we had no clue how hyper he would be!) 
 Tara is a broad in the truest sense of the word, and I mean that as a high compliment.  She can hold her own with the boys and is one of the toughest women I know.  She takes care of business and is highly organized.  She is also very girly, and loves crafts and scrapbooking (a fact that blew my mind the first time I heard it). 
 This year has been the most difficult of her life, and the grace, strength, and faith at which she has faced it down has been awe-inspiring.  She's going to be having a little girl (Macy Jane) in a few short weeks, and I am so excited for her as she begins this journey.  She's going to be an amazing mom!
 Years ago, before Tara left for the Navy, I felt God speak to my heart that she was going to need a friend.  I wrote her letters while she was at BASIC, and thought maybe that would be the extent of it.  (If we'd only known, right?)  I can honestly say that I am honored to be her friend.  Hurry up and get home so that we can start spoiling you and Miss Macy, okay?  I can't wait!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kelly's Show Us Your Life: How I Stay Organized

Okay, first and foremost, I need my so-called real-life friends to stop laughing.  I'm sure that I am even daring to post on the subject of organization is hilarious them.  (Also, all of you laughing, we aren't friends anymore.)  And the rest of you, give me a moment as I prepare to reveal my not-so-secret shame. The thing is, I am messy, but I am not disorganized.  Nine times out of ten, I know exactly what is in each and every pile, and if you move it, my entire system will be destroyed. 

My problem is not with the organization itself.  I love storage bins just as much as the next girl.  My problems are in the getting it that way and keeping it that way realm.  I get overwhelmed easily and when I'm overwhelmed, I tend to just shut down.  Not exactly the most productive way to handle it, but here we are.  I also have entirely too much stuff.  I am, in fact, a packrat and I always have been.  (I've decided that it's hereditary, because my mom and grandma both are, too.)  I'm sure that if I throw something away, that will be the exact moment that I need it.  It's crazy, but it's true.  I'm not eligible for A&E's Hoarders or anything, but I just hang on to things that I don't really need.  So, what I'm saying is that I actually need to get reorganized at home.  I'm actually planning to do some of that this weekend.  I don't have anywhere to be for the greater part of two days, and I'm quite frankly tired of looking at all of the junk everywhere.  One of the ideas that I really want to try is making flipflop hangers which I found on EPBOT, because believe me when I say I have too many shoes all over the place.

As far as my schedule, my date book is everything to me.  The only way that I could work with four extracurricular clubs, coordinate RtI stuff, and do my regular teaching stuff is to write down everything.  I make weekly to-do lists (which is why I keep a notebook in my purse), try to lay things out the night before, and plan ahead as much as possible.  I'm also a big believer in keeping all of my files on the computer organized by what they pertain to.  It's the only way that I could keep track of files, music, pictures, etc. 

I'm anxious to see what everyone else has as far as their organizational methods.  Maybe I will pick up a few helpful hints!

**Update:  After reading some of the other posts, I realize that there are some things that I do for organization that I don't even really think about anymore.  One is alphabetizing my CDs and DVDs (the shelves for which take up the whole wall of my office) and color-coordinating the clothes in my closet.  Maybe I'm more organized than I thought.  (But probably not.)**

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R Is For Road Trip

Like I've mentioned once or twice (or a million times), I love a good road trip.  Upon celebrating the fourth year of our Besties Road Trip Adventure, Amber and I offer you a few tips to help you survive a road trip of your very own.
    1.  Pack lightly. -- Bah-ha-ha!  I jest.  Here's an example of what the car normally looks like:
        Keep in mind that's two people traveling for less than a week.  We like to be prepared for anything.   Like the Zombie Apocolypse or the need to leave our boring lives and live on the beach forever.  
    2.  Have adequate music -- You should never rely solely on the radio.  The radio gods can be kind from time to time, but you never know when you will find yourself getting only three stations, all of which are playing the same six Top 40 songs over and over.  This time we had 2 CDs made especially for the trip and an 8GB iPod.  Preparation is key.  You never know what will become your "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)."  
    3.  Keep lots of snacks -- Know the eating habits of your traveling companion.  Amber, for example, gets crabby when not fed at regular intervals.  Protein is essential, as is a healthy balance of salty and sweet.  (Chocolate should only be packed sparingly as it will create a melty mess!)  Jerky, crackers and Twizzlers are always solid choices.  Car food also seems to multiply no matter how much of it you consume, but maybe that's just us.
    4.  Be open to new experiences.  Just not too open. -- You never know when a stop for gas will turn into a story you tell forever.  Additionally, be prepared to stop to enjoy at least one random roadside attraction.  Read the billboards and take a chance.  As long as you don't get too crazy, the worst that can happen is a cautionary tale about why your should never visit the Exxon at Exit 76.
    5. Have at least two modes of directions -- The GPS will screw you over if it has a chance (we regularly give Dottie a piece of our minds), so have some printed directions or at least an atlas in the car.  At least if you have a couple frames of reference, you can blame the maps and not the navigator.  Right?  Being able to consult both sets of directions reduces in the car yelling by at least 50%.
    6.  Have no fear, wear those track pants - Sure you want to look cute on vacation, but eight hours in the car is not the place for that.  When traveling, you should have your favorite tee, a good pair of track pants, and flip flops.  You're going to want to change the minute you walk in the door of your hotel/condo anyway, so don't waste your cute stuff on the car ride!
And most of all, take lots of pictures and have a great time!  What are your road trip rules?  Let me hear all about it in the comments!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q Is For Queen

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be royalty.  I wasn't quite as singularly obsessed as Jerramy Fine (in her book, Someday My Prince Will Come) but I paid an awful lot of attention for a girl who was born on a farm in the Midwest.  Especially when it came to princes William and Harry.  (But were I too pick, I'd have to go with Harry.  I've always loved the bad boy with a heart of gold thing!)

So, obviously, I'm a little excited about the whole royal wedding thing.  Now that I am older, I'm not really interested in the confines of royalty, which I guess is good seeing as how I am no closer to the British line than I was as a girl.  I don't care about all the TV specials leading up to it, I'm all about the main event.  Honestly, it's probably not really the royal part that gets me, it's the wedding thing.  I love a good ceremony! 

I like the pomp, the pageantry, the romance.  I like the groom waiting at the front of the church, and if that church happens to be Westminster Abbey then, awesome!  And I always say that a wedding is the best excuse outside of Miss America a girl has to wear a big ole tiara, and if those are the Crown Jewels?  Fabulous!  Sure, you get a new title when you say "I do!" but Kate, she gets to be a Duchess, and one day, she just might be Queen!  A commoner to a queen--it's the fairy tale, right?

So, I want to know if you will be watching, even if it's just because it's on while you're getting ready.  Tell me all about it in the comments!

Wednesday Hodgepodge--April 20

1. What are your plans for Easter Day/weekend?

     This year, I am going to my church, then driving over to my aunt's house for dinner.  I'm sure at some point, either Saturday night or Sunday, I am also going to celebrate with the other side of the family at my cousin's new house.  (Hello, Cousin, a faithful blog reader!)

2. Besides Jesus, what one person from The Bible would you most like to meet and why?

     I'm going to have to go with Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Her story just fascinates me.  Can you imagine what it would be like to be the mother of God's son?  Talk about pressure.  A close second would be Esther, because I found Beth Moore's study of her so interesting.

3. What is one modern day convenience you didn't have as a child that was easy to live without?

     I didn't have a cell phone until I was driving, and even then I only had it because my grandmother was postive I was going to be abducted or something and she bought me one and paid for it.  Now I see third graders with cell phones.  It's a little crazy.

4. Are you more right brained or left brained? If you don't know what that means there is an interesting little quiz here.

     I took the quiz, and I am 43% Left-Brained and 57% Right-Brained.  This doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

5. What is something you intended to do today but didn't? Why?

     So far, I think I have hit everything on my list.  But that just means that I have probably forgotten whatever else it was I should be doing.

6. Cadbury Creme Eggs or Reeses peanut butter?

     Reeses Eggs all the way.  (And it's traditional that I will still have some in my Easter basket too.  And yes, my mom still makes us all Easter baskets.  Don't judge!)  Cadbury Eggs freak me out.  I think it's a consistency thing.

7. Who was your favorite cartoon character when you were a child?

     Honestly, I'm not sure.  I wasn't a big cartoon girl.  I liked the Care Bears and Gummi Bears and watched a lot of Disney, too.  But, fun fact:  I went as Cyndi Lauper for Halloween when I was four, so maybe she was my real favorite.  And yes, here's the picture (Eyes closed to show off the fancy eyeshadow):
Well, hello, 1985!  So nice to see you again.  This really was one of my favorite costumes and I had that wig forever.

8. Looking at my calendar for the next three or four weeks makes me panic.  It does every year, but it seems like I have more things to do between now and the end of school than I ever have.  I just keep repeating, "It will all get done.  It will all get done..."

Monday, April 18, 2011

P Is For Photography

I'm the first one to say that I know nothing about photography, short of the few "rules" my dad taught me on his old Canon, such as kids and animals are always cuter in a close shot.  But as far as the technical, I got nothing.  I don't know what aperture is, a darn thing about focal length, how to shoot on manual with any real promise.  Any decent picture I get is luck, pure and simple.  To pretend that it's talent would be just that, pretend.  This is why I balk when people ask about my photography work.  I am not a photographer, because I know really good ones, and I'm not even in their universe.  And I'm really trying not to rant here, but just because you have a camera, a Facebook page, and a catchy name, it doesn't mean that you have any business trying to sell your work.  (But that's just my opionion.)

I have a program to edit that I use when I'm feeling fancy, but a lot of the time, I just let the picture be what it is.  I didn't even know I had this rainbow picture until I found it looking through my files this afternoon.
I have a thing about running water.  I'm absolutely fascinated by creeks, rivers, oceans, whatever.  I also really like the zoo, because it give me a chance to capture animal pics that I wouldn't normally be able to get.  Because we all know that my people don't camp or sweat or do anything unpleasant like that.  (And hippos and bears not behind glass are scary.)

 I'll spare you another thousand flower pictures.  I do love how nature is typically much more cooperative than your average four-year old.
But Dad wasn't wrong about the kid thing.  Even if I never meant to take it, and I've used it here before, but this will forever be one of my all-time best pictures.
I may not be a pro, but I think that if you truly love something, knowledge isn't the most important thing--heart is.

O Is For Over (The Weekend)

Over the weekend:
  • I didn't take a single picture.  Nope, not one.
  • I ate entirely too much spicy food, which I regretted after the fact.
  • I saw Avenue Q with Amber.  And while it was a little sick and wrong, it was also hilarious! Look at us, broadening our horizons.
  • I changed the theme/colors of Tara's baby shower no less than three times, but I think I may have possibly settled on the colors, as long as I don't see anything else that I like better.
  • I performed "Why" by Nichole Nordeman with the girls.  If you haven't heard it, it's the perfect song as we enter Holy Week (aka the week before Easter).
  • I bought and read more than half of Two Kisses for Maddy.  (And sobbed.  Thanks, Matt.)
  • I started Baby Macy's treasure trove.  Spoiled doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • I actually cleaned up and did some laundry.
  • I looked forward to the upcoming three-day weekend.
What did you do this weekend?  Let me hear you in the comments.  Also, if you read me and you haven't done it yet, how about following me?  I love being able to find your blogs, too!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Prayer Monday -- April 18, 2011

It's Holy Week.  One of the things I loathed as a child, but fondly remember as an adult is going to Mass during the week before Easter.  Holy Thursday, with the washing of the feet and, as I got older, singing, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" from the balcony.  Good Friday with its overwhelming sense of mourning and Ms. Lewis singing "Were You There" that still gives me chills even as I think of it today.   The waiting of the Easter Vigil.  All leading up to the celebration of the Resurrection of the Savior on Easter Morning, complete with a brand new dress and a basket full of goodies.  I know why He went to the cross.  He went for me and for you.  Praise Him!

  • Uncle James is doing so well!  He's breathing in his own more and more and has reached several other good milestones.  Auntie remains steadfast and generally awesome as they walk this road together!   I so appreciate all of your prayers, and will certainly ask for them to continue through this recovery process.
  • For all my friends who are or are becoming mamas.  I pray for safe deliveries and healthy babies.  Can't wait to meet these sweet ones!  Also, this would be a good time to add in a mama in a less conventional way, my blog friend and yours, Amy Beth.  She's a foster mom to teens (and a little one), and she's certainly jumping in with both feet, for which I highly commend her.  But I know she would covet your prayers, too!  (Hop over to her blog to learn more!  She's fabulous!)
  •  For Jayce, who I talked about last week.  He's doing well considering all he's been through.  But what child should have to face so much in such a short life?
  • For Lucy and her parents, Erik and Kate.  Kate's talked about the peace she's had this week, and she knows that it comes from God and is because of the prayers of His people.
  • I have a personal request that I am just not at liberty to share.  But God knows, and I'm believing that He will do what we are asking Him to do.
  • That I can get my act together and focus on getting healthy.  My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and let's just say that it looks more like a tenement than it does a cathedral!  
Father God, sometimes I just don't know where to begin.  There are so many requests, so many big things, that our requests seem so small.  But, I know that You hear us and better yet, You are for us!  I praise You for giving Your life, though sinless and blameless, for me--for us all--while we were still in sin.  Thank You for loving us when we are wholly unlovable.  Be with us this week.  Be with each of our requests, and with each woman who participates.  Help us to have an Easter week solely focused on the blessings of an empty tomb.  In the Name of Jesus, our Savior, I pray.  Amen!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N Is For Nun

I haven't struggled with a single letter until I got to "N."  I was completely at a loss.  And then I remembered a story from my youth...

For those of you that don't know, I was raised Catholic.  And though I no longer attend a Catholic church, I still have a lot of love and respect for the amazing people that raised me up there, including the people in the following story.  I'm simply laughing at the situation, never at the people.

The summer before my friends and I entered high school, the three Catholic churches from our area offered a field trip for young women.  We were going to The City to see several Catholic momuments and churches and we would be staying all night at the Mother House (which was housing for retired nuns).  I was excited to hang out with my girlies and have a good time, so I gladly went.  We spent the first day touring I can't even remember where.  When we arrived at the Mother House, we swam in their Olympic-size heated pool, ate popcorn and watched TV in the great room, and then went upstairs to our dormitory-style rooms where we talked ourselves to sleep. 

The next morning, we took a tour of the Mother House and of the offices that were attached.  We met a nun who was a librarian, another who was a travel agent, so on and so forth.  It was then they took us into the chapel balcony for the hard sell.  Our Sister (who really is an amazing lady) and the others, extolled the virtues of being a nun.  You could travel the world, you could hold a job, it wasn't just working in a church.  We listened politely until they said something like, "If you're a nun, you can do anything you want."  It was then my best friend leaned over and whispered, "Yeah, except have sex!"  And it echoed in that pin-drop quiet church like nothing I've ever heard.  And all prentense was over, we collapsed into giggles, the conversation effectively over. 

And that my friends, is why N is for nun, but I never got invited to be one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kelly's Show Us Your Life: My Book List

Kelly asked us to share what we've been reading, and I'm really at the point where I'm just starting to put my summer book list together.  I still have a couple books on previous list that I haven't read yet (Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin and Abigail Adams by Woody Holton) but there are several others that I'm interesting in.

One is Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I've had this book for several months, but I want to be able to devote some time to it and there hasn't been a ton of that around these parts.  I'm intrigued by what he has to say on God, the church, and faith in general. 

Another book I can't wait to read is Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin.  I've been a fan of his blog for a long time, and this book has been a long time coming.  His story is one that everyone hopes won't happen to them, but I love the truth and honesty that he uses to tell how he survived. 

I'm also planning on picking up Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner (soon in paperback), Promises To Keep by Jane Green, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In The Morning by Celia Rivenbark, and of course, If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster, her new "fiction" work out May 3.  I haven't done a great job keeping up with everything I've read, but if you would like to see what else I've been reading, you can find some of my other book reviews here, here, here, here, and here.

What have you been reading?  I can't wait to hear all about it!

M Is For Music

If you know one thing about me, it's probably the role that music plays in my life.  I've been singing from the time I could talk.  What other four-year old could sing every song on The Big Chill soundtrack?  I didn't always like being able to sing when I was a kid because my voice was too big for my age.  I will never forget being at church, being teased by a friend's cute older brother because of my voice.  I got over it, though. 

And then when I discovered musicals?  Puh-lease!  I became the human songbook, soaking up as many lyrics as I could.  I'm still amazed at the songs I know, even when I haven't heard them in a long time.  (That space in my brain should probably be filled with something important, like math skills!)  Singing will always be one of my favorite things, particularly in church.  There's no place where the emotional power of music is more deeply felt for me. 

Today, as far as what I'm listening to, I'm the girl that always has a new favorite song or a new artist I'm loving.  I don't listen to a lot of what is on the radio, but instead troll iTunes for a mix of the new and old.  Lately, I've been loving albums by Lori McKenna, The Civil Wars, and Peter Bradley Adams, and singles by a couple dozen others. 

At the end of the day, I will always be a girl who knows a little too much Broadway, has an obsession with MoTown, can sing the hymn book, and always has a few too many songs that you just have to hear.  But I just don't think I would want it to be any other way!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Inspiration and Positivity

I often take time to write about celebrity gone wrong but I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about one who is doing something positive.  I don't really know all that much about Demi Lovato.  Her roots are based at the Mouse House (Disney) and she released some pop music, but after that I'm spent.  News that she had checked into the hospital surprised me, but at least she was getting help. 

Today, People Online posted this article, which explains what Lovato is doing next.  Seventeen magazine has hired her as a contributing editor, and she is talking about why she sought help.  She's also pairing with Love Is Louder and The Jed Foundation.  I love that Lovato is taking something negative and painful in her life and using what she knows to help others.  Love Is Louder offers resources, ideas, and the positive message that love really is louder than the "noise" that surrounds us in the world.

Another site/idea geared at the teen population, but not such a bad thing for the rest of us, is Operation Beautiful.  It doesn't get much more basic than a Post-It on a bathroom mirror, saying "You're beautiful."  I really encourage you to check out this site and see how it got started and read a few of the stories. 

What programs, websites, or people you know are doing something awesome for others?  Share all about it in the comments.

L Is For LuLu

 Have I told you about my baby sister?
 You know, the one who is equal parts adorable and trouble?
My baby sister, better known as LuLu, appears fairly regularly on the blog.  She's the baby sister who I desperately wanted, and then sort of regretted wanting when she was five and I was a teenager.  I mean, she was always in the way, she stole my stuff, she was needy (She was essentially my mini-me.)  Now that we are both grown-ups (she's 20), we generally get along just fine, except of course when we both dig our heels in.  We are just a little bit alike.  A few things I love about her:

She's a willing model.
She has a dazzling smile.
She has the ability to laugh at herself.
She's a real live beauty queen.
Her knowledge of music is astounding.  (I like to think I have a little something to do with that!)

She loves and is loved by animals.
She's learning to be a good cook!
She's angelic. (Okay, she tries really hard to at least pretend to be angelic?)
Did I mention she's gorgeous?
And smart?
She passes on her knowledge to future generations (Princess is her mini-me!).

She's working her butt off in nursing school, but knows it will pay off one of these days when she's a nurse!  ( In fact, she just got accepted into her second year of nursing school last week.)
All in all, I think she's awesome!  Two thumbs way up!