Thursday, April 07, 2016

Looking for Lovely

Early this year, I applied to be on a launch team for a new Lifeway Book releasing by Annie F. Downs - Looking for Lovely.  I'd never participated in a launch team before and figured I'd have little chance to make it...but I did!  And there began my journey of lovely. 

I'd followed Annie on the socials and knew she'd written other books (of which I haven't read...yet), and that she was single, which is always something that endears me to a godly woman.  Those of us never marrieds that follow Christ have a desire to marry.  But, we're not going to settle for Mr. Maybe.  Some choose singleness.  Others follow God's choice for a season, however long that season lasts. 

I anxiously awaited my advance copy and it came with all the pomp and circumstance of a glorious royal entry full of glittery confetti!  Party started!

I paced my reading of this book because it would be a little over two months before it hit the market on April 5 and I wanted to savor every word.  And it didn't disappoint.  

Annie shared (quite vulnerably, I might add) about a season of life when she dealt with her "broken crazy."  A time in her life when her resilience was non-existent and she struggled to focus on the good in things; lovely was not a word in her vocabulary.  

The journey through this book of Annie's search for lovely takes you so many places - to the Holy Land, the Ryman Auditorium, a beautiful sunrise, a farmer's market and Monet's House.  Each chapter unveils the lovely Annie found in the midst of the ordinary things of life and packaging it up like putting lightning bugs in a jar in hopes they would blink forever.  At the end of each chapter after Annie had visually walked us through her lovely experience, she challenged us with our own assignment.  Get up early and watch a sunrise.  Paint your nails.  Whatever that challenge was, Annie encouraged us to find lovely in our lives.  

When I ruminated over this blog post review of the book, I wanted to share a lovely in my life.  There are so many in my life that I often overlook.  Earlier this week I was at dinner with a longtime friend.  As we ate, a man who was in the restaurant making balloon animals in return for donations for a mission trip walked up and gave us each our own animal.  I got a turtle that is cute as a button.  He said they'd probably last about two weeks.  Now I have a "lovely" sitting in my home to remind me of that dinner with a cherished friend.

To pick a lovely I could really share in depth, I wanted something that, even to this day, I recall and smile.  It was last May, the first Saturday in May, which for us in Louisville, Kentucky, is Derby Day.  I have a standing date with a sweet lady from my church, Martha, the first Saturday of every month.  Martha has known me since before I was born.  She and my Mom were dear friends.  She is a pillar of our church and when you look up hospitality in the dictionary her picture is there.  Recently, her two best friends have slipped from her life - one has gone on to Heaven and the other one is trapped in a world of dementia.  We started this standing date when I realized how I would feel in her shoes.  And, selfishly, because she is a connection to my Mom and Dad, who are both now gone.  Even more than that, she is so wise and special to me.

On every other first Saturday we would head somewhere for brunch or lunch in town, with Cracker Barrel as one of our favorite places (talk about lovely!)  But on that first Saturday in May, Derby Day, I suggested someplace special.  I made reservations at the Science Hill Inn just outside of Louisville in Shelbyville, Kentucky.  This historic building was a preparatory school for girls from 1825 to 1939.  It still stands today and houses a quaint dining room serving Kentucky delicacies.  For Derby Day, there was a lovely brunch and we headed there for our special day.

As we entered the building, you could feel the historic presence of girls who had dreams of being anything they wanted to be.  We made our way to the dining room and it felt like I walked into the 1800s.  The tables were colonial style and draped with bright, white tablecloths.  The serving staff was all adorned with tuxes or black and white attire and you could tell all of them had worked there for years and knew the regulars by name.  We were seated by a lovely window overlooking the gardens.  It was perfect.  It was lovely.  

We talked and shared and didn't feel rushed to leave. (Unlike the time they threw us out of Cracker Barrel...but I digress)  While sitting there, a sweet teenager came to our table and asked if she could pray for us.  Simply lovely.  Our server shared her Dad was a pastor in the area and they were a great family.  If the day wasn't lovely enough, this made it lovelier.  The weather was picture perfect and the company even better.  

As I mentioned, Martha and I do this every month, never fail, save one month when it just didn't work out.  And I look forward to it every month.  But this Derby Day 2015 will be a lovely I'll never forget.  

If you are expecting an exegetical thesis on the book of Ezekial, it's not this book.  But, if you've ever had a problem finding lovely in your this world....and tired of being the strong one or adulting, this is a must read.  All of the lovely points to the One who is the Loveliest of all.  

"This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:5

"Hope is an expensive commodity, not easily fought for, and the result of a process that will take some time." - Annie F. Downs

Friday, April 01, 2016

Non-April Fool's Funny

It's April Fool's Day and I've already had an attempted prank played on me.  One of my employees tried to tell me they were rebooting West Wing.  On any other day I would have "SQUEEEEEED!" for joy, but I knew it was merely his poor attempt to doop me.  In honor of this fun day (which is on a Friday this year!), I'm sharing one of my all-time favorite video moments.  It's from The Ballinger Family, who vlog daily and have three of the cutest children ever.  The youngest, Parker, at age 3 experiences candy for the first time in this video.  His reaction is my favorite.  When I get excited about something, this is really how I feel.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Gospel According to Eagles

I have a new obsession and it's watching the DC Eagle Cam.  The American Eagle Foundation has this cam, and three cams in Dollywood that watch over the nests of our country's bird, the Bald Eagle.  There are other nests and cams that operate, but normally are most active when eggs have been laid, hatched and the world can watch the interaction of the Mom and Dad eagle with their young.  

I am hooked.  Who knew watching an Eagle Cam could be so engaging?  I'm fascinated by so many things that occur while watching.  The Mom Eagle keeps watch over her young and before they are hatched she helps to incubate them by sitting on the eggs.  This may change if the temperature changes, so she keeps a close watch on these pre-born chicks.  For the DC Eagle nest, the Eagles are named Mr. President and First Lady.  The Dollywood Cam has Franklin and Independence, Isaiah and Mrs. Jefferson, and Sir Hatcher and Lady Independence.  The Dollywood nests have recently laid eggs, so the Mom Eagles are staying right in the nest the majority of time.

Mr. President goes out and secures food, so watching the cam can be a bit gross at times, when he brings some dead animal to the nest and they pick it clean to feed the baby birds and themselves.  There is blood, so be prepared.  The admins that monitor the periodic chat times, also post updates.  Mr. President does give the First Lady breaks and she leaves the nest to have "Eagle-ess" time while he takes over duties watching the Eaglets.  Good to know that the Eagles share the parenting duties.  

When I watch these cams, I'm completely enamored at the intricacy of creation.  Their nests are so well made (and quite heavy I've heard), and constructed to sit atop a tree and hold the family without fail....unless some tornado whips through I'd assume.  I can't imagine not believing in God as our Creator when you look at the nest alone and how it is built by these majestic birds.  Also, their ability to mate, lay eggs and protect their young is something beyond my comprehension.  Of course, there is a disclaimer on the site that anything can happen in the wild, but I've seen enough of upset Eagles to know they will put up a true fight before letting anything come near their eaglets.  But, as Scripture teaches in Matthew, birds don't worry about things because they know the Creator will provide.  Mr. President doesn't tell First Lady, "So I hope I find some food when I go looking today."  Because he knows he'll find some.  Oh to have the faith of an Eagle.  

Beyond the evidence of a Divine Creator, after watching the Dollywood Cam, I'm struck by something even more amazing.  The Momma Eagle rarely leaves from sitting on her eggs.  She recognizes the life that is in those eggs, ready to come alive and she is doing her part to ensure they hatch and survive.  She recognizes life, even before they hatch.  Read that again, "even before they hatch."  When we talk about life in a human mother's womb, we can hear heartbeats, see the babies on ultrasounds, and know that blood is pumping.  But even for the Eagle, they recognize there is a life that is about to emerge.  And they are going to do everything they can to make that happen.  The wonder of new birth.  Oh to have our world value life like the Eagle.

Friday, March 25, 2016

It Only Happens to Me

My life is funny.  I think that's why I enjoy life so much because the small encounters I have on a regular basis make me giggle.  I'll share a few in today's blog post that, even days later, leave me smiling.

A couple of weeks ago I met my sweet friend, Martha, for our monthly Cracker Barrel date.  We meet for breakfast (or brunch actually) once a month and I cherish those times together.  Many days we end up spending a couple of hours talking and enjoying our food, but on this particular day, we could tell they wanted us out.  Granted, there was a wait, so we needed to leave, but I chuckled at our not taking the server up on "to-go" drinks and then him returning with drinks to go.  

Before we left, I made a trip to the restroom.  There was one lady coming out and a woman and her child at the sinks.  I entered the stall and then poof the lights went out. My first thought was the child must have hit the switch, but I thought surely the Mom would have noticed that.  Then, when everything was so quiet and I was in the restroom alone, I thought "Did I just lose my eyesight?"  I put my hand in front of my face and couldn't see a thing.  Eeks!  I have lost my eyesight!  I was quickly reminded that public restrooms have no windows.  Have you noticed that?  I challenge you to check out the next public restroom you enter.  No windows 99.9% of the time.  So I struggled my way in the dark after taking care of business to get to the door and flip the light on.  I'd waited expecting someone to enter and they didn't.  I knew it wasn't the rapture, because, people, I know where I'm going!  As I got to the door someone was coming in and surely thought I was a loon.  I told her "someone flipped the lights off."  She looked at me as if I'd just escaped the mental hospital.  For all the angst of that restroom visit, I chalk it up to the wait staff wanting me to leave.

Last week I was lounging in my recliner to read and was going to use my heating pad.  With RA, many times at the end of the day, I need some heat on my joints to ease the pain.  I have a heating pad that I believe was on Noah's Ark, but it does the trick.  Until recently.  I noticed that the light would go sporadically off and on and didn't know why.  Gee, didn't even dawn on my that the heating pad was 100 kabillion years old.  On this one night as I was shaking the wire I saw a spark and saw smoke.  The cord had worn through and it was sparking.  Great.  Thankfully, God loves me and kept me from catching on fire.  I quickly tossed the ancient heating pad in the garbage.  

Though I have crazy things happen, there are lots of "good" crazy.  Today on my way to work I stopped by Starbucks to get a green tea.  This Starbucks is notably the slowest on the planet.  About every 3 trips, I get a free drink due to the slow service.  Today was one of those days.  Not all crazy is a bad thing.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I'll Give That Five Stars

For those who follow my blog, you'll remember I started a YouTube channel a few months back called Rosie's Reviews.  I had this great and wonderful idea that I'd do video reviews of all sorts of things and become a millionaire from all the viewers I'd generate.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  I love YouTube.  It's like another television channel I watch.  Currently, I follow a lot of "vloggers" (the video form of a blogger) and usually watch a few videos in my subscription feed daily.  I really love the family vloggers...those that have children and vlog daily.  I'm either a sucker for kids or natural humor...or both.  But these vlogs are amazing!  You should check them out....the Ballinger Family....J House Vlogs....Daily Bumps....Our Teeny Family.  Every one of these families has a kid I'm totally in love with, so if you watch, you can take a guess.

Lest I I started this YouTube channel and then realized the work involved in keeping up a regular video schedule.  First you do the shoot.  That part was easy.  I'm an ad libber aka one-take wonder, so that part wasn't hard.  Second comes the editing.  I was editing at a low level - no bells and whistles like music, transitions, etc - but it still took time.  Then, uploading and publish.  My Internet is currently not the fastest - Uverse PLEASE come to my neighborhood! - so uploading a 15 minute video could take hours.  Due to my OCD, making sure I had a balanced schedule and videos in the queue to edit, and some sort of publishing schedule was like having a second full-time job. So, I soon let it fade. 

After my recent Oscar Challenge, my friend, Ashley suggested I start another blog simply focused on reviews.  Brilliant idea!!  Yes, blogs aren't as "2016" as a video, but my passion is the written word, so it just made sense.  And, since I have so much time on my hands (see sarcastic font here), I decided to do it!  On Leap Year Day, the blog was born - "Rosie's Reviews."  I'll be reviewing books, movies, makeup, name it.  If it's something I use or experience, my critique will come out.  

But, wait, what about this blog?  Am I abandoning it?  Absolutely not!  My Rosie's Reviews blog will be an additional blog in my repertoire while this blog remains the mother ship.  You may see blog posts here that are "reposts" of reviews on my other blog, but this will remain my home plate of creation.  This blog celebrated its 10 year anniversary last April and it holds a very special place in my heart.  I started this blog after a time in a dry, creative-less job and needed an outlet to "bring creative back."  Giving this blog up would be like removing a creative gene from my body.

Be sure to visit and bookmark my Rosie's Reviews blog.  Here are the first three posts so you can catch up...

Launching a New Blog and Recapping the Oscars

Book Review:  Me Before You

Book Review:  The Secrets of Midwives