Thursday, October 01, 2015

Time Marches On

One of the lines from my favorite movie, Steel Magnolias, is uttered by Truvy, the character played by Dolly Parton, "Time marches on, and sometimes you realize it's marching across your face."  

Time does march on, and with the march come change.  I'm normally very open to change and the refreshment it brings, but of late, there has been some changes that haven't been all that encouraging.  Recently, they came in threes (keeping with my recent Birthday Trifecta post).  

A few weeks ago, Kingfish closed their location on Blankenbaker near my home.  Kingfish is a local seafood place in Louisville that used to have a location on 4th Street near the river.  The Belvedere happened and Kingish closed and a new location opened across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  There was still a few locations around town, and one still on the Ohio River on the Kentucky side on River Road.  That one still remains.  Kingfish on River Road was one of my family's favorite locations to eat.  My Mom loved the seafood, as did my Dad and we'd frequent that location a lot.  After my Mom passed away, we moved on the East side of town.  Even when my Dad remarried, they eventually moved near me.  Dad found the Kingfish on Blankenbaker his new favorite.  I met my Dad and Stepmom there many times for dinner or lunch.  And we frequented there to celebrate birthdays and holidays.  When news released of its closing, I felt like I lost a little bit more of my Dad.

This past weekend I received a flyer in the mail from the Ben Franklin Store in Middletown.  I got very excited expecting this to be a sales flyer as we are entering the holiday season.  Unfortunately, it was a letter stating that after 32 years of business, the family was closing the store.  I was devastated.  Ben Franklin is where I always bought my crochet yarn, and lots of other craft goodies.  It's close to home and they also carried lots of great Christmas decorations for reasonable prices.  But more than that, this was one of the places I would frequent with my Mom.  My love of crafts comes from her.  She was always working on a project.  A day out with my Mom would be either going to the movies and trying a new restaurant, or going to a craft store and spending the day shopping and then trying a new restaurant.  In fact, since my Mom passed 15 years ago, I sometimes just wander around a craft store when I'm missing her.  And this is big, folks, because I loathe shopping, but a craft store or bookstore is where I could spend hours. With the news of Ben Franklin closing, I felt like I lost another part of Mom.  She's been gone 15 years this year and memories fade, so losing this tangible place seemed sad. 

Then, the icing on the cake.  There is a Wendy's on Blankenbaker (technically Kentucky Mills Drive, but close enough) that I frequent in the mornings on the way to work.  Their Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal is to die for!  And, they are the only restaurant I pass on the way to work where I can get a fountain Coke Zero. (Thornton's doesn't count)  I also like to swing through there to get a Tropical Green Tea when I'm feeling the need for a healthier option for a beverage.  Earlier this week I did just that and as I got my Green Tea, I noticed the sign that said, "As of October 1, this location will no longer be serving breakfast.  Please be sure to visit our Middletown location for your breakfast need."  Really!?!  I decided since I didn't pay homage on the final days of Kingfish and Ben Franklin that I would for Wendy's breakfast.  Yesterday I went to Wendy's to get their amazing oatmeal and my Coke Zero and almost shed a tear as I drove out of the parking lot.  

They say as you get older, change is more difficult.  I really want to fight against that because I do get rather energized by change.  But, when it impacts good memories (sans Wendy's), I prefer those be around until Jesus comes. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Birthday Trifecta

This year marks my Golden Jubilee.  When I was younger, the thought of me being 50 years old one day seemed so far away it wasn't worth thinking about.  I figured I'd be married, children in high school or college and growing old with my husband.  None of those things have happened, and although I'm holding out hope for some of those, my life isn't on hold waiting for it all to happen.  This past year I completed my MBA, which is something else I still can't believe I did...and survived.  Long ago I figured if I hadn't married by 50, I'd pursue higher education.  Seems like God had better plans and I completed that education before I turned 50.  

With both my parents gone and very little extended family, my friends have become my family.  I'm blessed to have a lot of people around me who love me and went to amazing strides to make this milestone birthday memorable.  My Mom would have loved every minute of these celebrations and I'm sure would be thrilled to know I'm so loved.  My Dad would have reminded me he also had a milestone coming as he would have been 90 this upcoming October had he lived.  When you turn half a century, celebrations just seem to be in order. 

My celebrations came in three ways, each very special and perfect for me.  The first celebration was a week before my birthday.  The members of the Finer Things Club surprised me with a Day at Churchill Downs, complete with a brunch buffet and cake from Homemade Pie Kitchen.  What is the Finer Things Club? It is a take off of the club from The Office, where life is focused on the finer things. We eat at nice places, do classy things, and rise above the commoners.  Lest that last part sounds too snobby, it's all in fun, people, relax.  It was a great day of wonderful food and fun.  I'm a Kentucky girl - specifically a Louisville girl - and I love to watch the horses.  In fact, I even got my picture with a horse....a costumed horse that is.  He even got on one knee and proposed.  I'm not sure whether to be disturbed or flattered by that.  Our server even gave me a Derby and Oaks glass from the 2015 events.  It was a great day!

The day before my actual birthday, my OPCs (the Louisville branch - Christie, Beth and Amy) planned a surprise event.  They told me to be at church at 2pm and that was about all I knew.  I showed up at my appointed time and the room was decorated in purple and gold - my favorite color and the color of my jubilee.  It was simple, yet elegant.  As I walked into the room, I was told there were people that had come miles to celebrate.  My friend Julie from E-Town, my friend Alisa, her Mom and sister, Karen, from Lexington (though Karen is in Louisville), my friend, Toby, from Nashville, and Mark and Sharon, also from Nashville.  Wow, just wow.  If that wasn't enough, Julie had come up with a amazingly memorable idea to treasure the day.  She had drawn a tree on a canvas and asked everyone to leave their thumbprint as a leaf and include their name to remember those that were there.  Then, a love seat had been set up with a backdrop so people could come and get photos and chat with me.  I'm an introvert and not someone who will flit about the room making my presence known, and my girls know that, so they accommodated.  In addition, purple cards were collected where people wrote a reason they loved me.  Again, wow.  The dessert table was a plenty, and my cake was delicious!  I was supposed to have a "Carol Cake" made by Carol (imagine that) and always oh so yummy!  But, due to recent eye surgery she couldn't make the cake so Jessica came out of retirement to do my cake.  Literally that was one of the best gifts ever!  Ironically, she also made the cake for my 40th birthday celebration.  Lots of great chats with friends, sweet cards, precious gifts and most of all the love I felt.

The final celebration of my trifecta was dinner out with my OPCs.  I never tire of spending time with these sisters and I feel blessed that no matter what happens, we are always there for each other.  I reflect on the times we've stood by each other at funeral homes - celebrated births of children - got loopy during road trips - laughed until we cried - provided levity and love during sicknesses and hospital visits.  We ate at a very nice restaurant with lots of "fru-fru" food, as Christie called it, but if we had eaten at Waffle House, I wouldn't have been any less happy.  These are the Steel Magnolias of my life.  Oh there are others, but these are the ones that sacrificed so much to make my Golden Jubilee special.

As we were talking at dinner, I was told of part of the celebration that never even dawned on me during the last year.  On the 28th of each month, they did something to make sure I was loved.  I do remember getting gifts for no reason and wondering "what is that for?" and the date never dawned on me.  Since the 28th was my birthday, that was their plan.  A year of celebration.  And that's why these girls are special.

I can say it a thousand times, but it never seems enough.  I'm blessed beyond what I deserve.  Remember that list of where I thought I'd be at 50?  Yeah, I'm not there, but I am right where I need to be and oh so thankful God's Plan is better than mine.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Friendships Are Like TV Shows

Recently I've become a return watcher of The Facts of Life now that it is appearing on many cable stations in reruns.  This show about four girls in high school and college was popular when I was in high school and college and I loved it!  Still do.  Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie all had a friendship that stood the test of time.  When I thought about this show, and some other rerun favorites, I realized that female friendships can be classified by three different shows....

The Facts of Life, as I mentioned earlier, was my high school/college picture of girlfriends.  At times I envied Blair, but was really Natalie.  And now that I'm older I think I've ultimately turned into Mrs. Garrett.  As I recently watched the reruns, I see how life issues were dealt with in the 80s and heave a sigh that I wish that they were handled in a similar way on TV today, instead of sitcoms trying to take a stand for the latest controversial topic.

Designing Women was another of my favorites.  I adored Charlene!  She was who I wanted to be.  That one who felt like she was born too late and wanted to marry a soldier...and she eventually did.  Suzanne made me laugh and her sister, Julia, was the matriarch.  This was the show in my 20s that I identified as a picture of female friendships.  I think I was most like Charlene, the hopeless romantic, though some people thought I was more Mary Jo.  Bernice was one of my favorites too.  The episode where she wore the tree skirt as an actual skirt I remember laughing until I cried.  I believe this may have been the same episode when Charlene's baby was born; a two-parter that featured Dolly Parton. (Triple Score!)  Now that I'm older, I'm probably more like Julia, but I hope some day to be like Bernice!

The Golden Girls is one of those shows I never tire of.  Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia living in Miami in their twilight years.  It's sad to think that only Betty White is left from the cast.  When this show aired - in fact it debuted 30 years ago - I was far from their age, but I still loved the show.  My girlfriends and I would joke that we'd grow old and move in together in a house like Blanche's in Miami.  I love Rose, and not just because of the name, but because of her happy innocence.  She was always the one I'd want to be if cast in the show.  As I grow older and celebrate my Golden Jubilee this year, there are episodes of this show that touch me more now than they did 30 years ago.  Friendships like that are precious.

I love to watch all of these shows in light of each other, realizing that friendships last and blossom no matter what age or stage of life we're in.  You take the good, you take the bad, and say, "Thank you for being a friend."

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Gospel According to the Chicken and the Egg

The age old question of "which came first; the chicken or the egg?" has baffled people for ages.  I find this question a bit of a no brainer if you believe in a world created by God, which I do.  The chicken came first.  Duh.  On the day God created the animals, chickens were first.  He didn't create an egg that hatched one day and "poof" - chicken.  

Now that you can sleep better at night because you know the answer to that question, I'll pose one that is similar to the chicken and egg debate.  "Which came first; faith or works?"  In a recent time of personal study, I re-read the passage in James 2 that discusses this very topic.  Let's look at verses 14-26:

?What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?  In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?  Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.  So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
So, is it faith that saves you or your works?  This question separates the wheat from the tares, and one denomination from another.  The Bible teaches here that faith does come first, but faith alone without works (or evidence, we might call fruit) is dead.  Some religions believe that you can do enough good 'works' and earn your way to eternal life with God.  But the Bible teaches that works are merely the evidence of your faith.  We don't do works, and then have faith.  We have faith that produces works.  The theological Chicken and the Egg.  
The verse that always causes me to pay attention is verse 19 "The demons also believe—and they shudder."  Just believing is a dead faith.  It requires works to show your faith is real and active.  I'm not better than a demon if I say I believe in God, but I have no evidence in my life to reveal that belief.
You may think you are on a journey to earn yourself a ticket to Heaven.  But, dear readers, this passage very simply shows what faith looks like in those who know Jesus personally and will spend eternity with Him.  Faith first, works second.  Knowing I possess a living faith, also helps me sleep at night.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Post-MBA Bucket List

It's been a month and a half since I finished my MBA.  My friend, Amy, told me, "when you finish, you are going to be so bored, you'll need to find things to fill that time."  Um, that's a negative.  I'm never bored, and finishing my MBA didn't change that fact.  Quite frankly, I don't understand people who get bored.  That is beyond my ability to understand.  I surmise it is because I'm an only child and we types grow up learning how to entertain ourselves.  That translates to adulthood and we're quite content because we can find a myriad of things to keep us busy.

About one-month away from my MBA completion, I decided to put a lot of things on hold to accomplish post-MBA.  This might have been tasks around my house to promised lunch engagements with friends.  In any case, it got me thinking that it would be good to think bigger picture and outline a "Post-MBA Bucket List."  Those things I want to accomplish now that the last two years of intense study are over.  In no particular order, here it is...

1.  Read more - Ironically, I read a lot during the last two years, but more about business, strategy, organizational theory and the like.  When I say I want to read more, I mean for pleasure.  Fiction.  Novels.  Escapes.  I've already begun to accomplish that by starting the increase through audiobooks in my car.  I'm listening to my first one from the Public Library post MBA and almost done.  I'm seriously considering joining since the Public Library selection is limited, or the wait is a bit redonculous.  Reading from the written page, or listening as it is read to me, I'm sure to increase my reading, and hence my knowledge.

2.  Journal - There have been many seasons in my life when I journaled.  But I haven't done so in probably five or six years.  I recently posted a Table Topic on Journaling on this blog because I was surprised at the number of men who journal.  I've purchased my first notebook and now just need to start the exercise.  I've stopped in the past because I was very regimented to do it every day.  I'm not going to put that requirement on myself so that I'll be more consistent in my journaling.

3.  Vacation in Hawaii - Most of my vacations entail visiting friends, which I adore.  But, one of my friends, Ashley, has wanted me to go to Hawaii with her for a while.  I figured what better time than post MBA!  I've never been to the islands and I'd love to go and experience it.  I hope to plan this for sometime next year with the help of my Hawaii veteran, Ashley.

4.  Craft - I love to craft.  Love it.  It's so soothing and therapeutic.  I've done a bit of it while in school, but I really want to spend more time doing it.  I love to crochet and I started an afghan during my holiday break last year, but obviously haven't gotten far.  I'd like to pick up the pace on that, and sign up to take craft classes to learn other crafting techniques.  I took one craft class during my MBA stint and loved it.  But, when you work full-time and are in school full-time, the involvement in doing something like that is limited.

5.  Get Published - For as long as this blog has been alive, I've wanted to write a book.  The problem is two-fold: (1) What type of book? (2) When do i find time to write it?  I'm currently writing curriculum for our preschool ministry at church, which I'm really enjoying, so these types of projects come up, deterring me in a Mr Holland's Opus fashion.  I've also wanted to start smaller and just get articles published.  I think some experience in publishing consumable content, I'll have a better foundation for a full book.  In either case, getting published is on the list.

6.  Personal Retreat - I realized that I need some time away from the distractions of life to rejuvenate, reflect and retreat. (See: only child)  Not to sound all new-agey, this would be a time where I could spend time communing with the Lord, and also just relaxing away from the hub bub of life.  I'm on the pursuit of a good location where I can not feel compelled to leave the place where I lay my head, yet not be too far from civilization that I can go to a coffee shop or restaurant.  Don't suggest camping.  My idea of roughing it is no cable in an air conditioned facility.  

Those are just the first things that come to mind, but I'm sure there will be more.  Though the official structured learning is complete, the lifelong learning and growing continues.