Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Table Topics: Frigid Wear

The temperature is dropping and it's winter time folks!  Here in the Ville, we expect a low of zero actual degrees tonight...all the more reason to watch the Cardinals play their first ACC opening basketball game in the warmth of my house.  

I'm a flip flop girl.  I was born and raised here in Kentucky, but I'd rather be wearing flip flops year round.  You'd think I was a Florida transplant.  Aside from that, I'm pretty keen on various clothing accessories for winter - scarves (fashionable these days), chapeaus (hats for you non-educated folk), gloves and various types of wraps (read: coats).  I'm a fairly warm-blooded soul, so I don't require a full regalia of these accessories when the temperature hits 40.  People, if you live here and you do, you might need to think about alternative locations.  But, as the red slowly leaks from the temperature gauge, I need to don some or all of the above mentioned items.  

For me, I normally don't wear gloves until it is a few degrees below freezing.  As the temperature drops, I'll add a scarf, just to keep everything tucked in and warm.  When it's really cold (like the teens or lower), I'll don a hat that was a very nice Christmas gift from my employer.  I normally don't mind wearing hats that, when ripped off your head, make you look like a zombie.  This is part of the blessing of naturally curly hair.  Just poof it back in place.  Of course, fashionable scarves are appropriate at any temperature.

Now it's time for our Table Topic:  

What "frigid wear" to you don when the temperature drops?

And remember...you won't feel like a Frigidaire if you have your Frigid wear! (Did you see what I did there?)

Monday, January 05, 2015

That Which Transcends Time and Space

On New Year's Eve, I finally got to see the science fiction adventure film, Interstellar.  It was definitely worth the wait, and a marvelous way to end out the year...even if it caused my mind to blow.

As is my bent, I couldn't help but see the gospel intertwined in the story (albeit unintentional).  If you've seen the move, read on.  If not, there could be some spoilers below, so be warned.

The story is set some time in the future.  Matthew McConaughy (swoon!) stars as Cooper, a former NASA pilot that now lives life as a farmer, raising food in a blighted world called Earth.  The government has shut down many agencies, rewritten textbooks to claim the moon landings were a farce, and experiencing death of the human race at a rapid pace.  Through an intricate set of clues, his daughter, Murphy, uncovers a code that leads them to the hidden location of NASA, still operating to find another galaxy and planet(s) for humankind to exist.  There is a Plan A and a Plan B.  Plan A is to move human race to one of the three possible planet locations found to save their lives.  If that plan fails, Plan B is to raise the embryos they have frozen to salvage the human race if those on the Earth are obliterated due to death.  The twists and turns of this movie that lasts almost three hours is so much more than I can encapsulate here.  This complex story line is definitely worth a watch, so get to the theater before it's gone, or put it on your Netflix/RedBox list.  

Cooper was used to save mankind, and although he was not a perfect man, like Jesus, he did make his decisions based on all of humankind, not just his family.  While physicists, astronauts and engineers mathematically argued what should be done based on numbers, Cooper argued that there was only one option...save mankind.  When God sent His Son, He didn't have to, and He made that sacrifice for all the generations to come. Nothing made sense logically to the way Jesus came, lived or died (and rose again), but it was all part of the plan.  I will say that humankind was spared in the movie.  You'll have to watch it to see how.

One of my favorite lines from the movie was spoken by Brand.  She was played by Anne Hathaway and was the daughter of the physicist solving the equation for gravity.  Without going into detail regarding the genesis of this quote (because it would take too long), Brand defends why she believes the team should choose to return to one of the three planets.  Love.  The astronaut supposedly there was her true love.  With little to no evidence about the status of the three planets' astronauts, other than a blip that that were alive, she felt drawn to that planet.  Her quote was "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."  Powerful.  

Scripture teaches us that God is love.  And although our finite minds can't perceive the fullness of who He is, He has made a way for us to experience that love through His Love through us in Jesus Christ.  This quote stuck with me...."that transcends time and space."  God is bigger than time or space.  He never slumbers.  He is omniscient.  He is love.  As a new year begins, it is good to know that the Creator of this universe is concerned with loving me.  

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015: Joy

Once again a new year begins.  For those that know me well, they've heard me don this year my "Golden Jubilee."  I won't elaborate on why.  You can figure it out.  As I've done each year, I've chosen a word for the upcoming year.  For 2014, I chose a phrase, "Be Intentional" but for 2015, I've boiled it down to one word:  Joy.

There are a couple of reasons why, after much prayer and thought, this word bubbled to the top as my word for the year.  First, and the most obvious, is the fact that I'm speaking on Joy at our annual women's conference in March.  To prepare for the session, I've been spending a lot of time immersing myself into studying Scripture to learn more about what the Bible says about Joy.  The acronym I've heard all my life - Jesus - Others - Yourself - might be good in a pinch, but I want to go deeper, really grasping what Joy is, where do we find it when we're struggling, how do we retain it?  

The other reason goes much deeper in my life.  Over the past 2-3 years, I've suffered a lot of loss.  I've lost close friends, my Dad, my Stepmom.  Literally my immediate family is no more.  Lest you begin a pity party for me, please do not.  I'm blessed far beyond what I deserve and God reminds me of that every day.  Even during this holiday season, I was so loved and embraced by my "friendily" (friends that are family) that I don't even realize I have no biological immediate family.

I feel like I've done a mediocre job of retaining my joy in all of these circumstances.  I could write pages of how God sustained me through all of these losses and provided for me (and still is providing.)  But, as resilient as I am, I feel as though I've been grasping on to joy like a person on the edge of a cliff, one fingernail from falling into the ravine.  I've kept the smiles and brave face and wept to God many times in my private moments crying out for grace.  He's always provided.  This grasping has caused me to be more "adult" than I want to be.  I've not experienced that loopy-ness that would come upon me before I saw those I love suffer and die.  Dealing with life as an adult can suck the joy out of a person.  

So 2015, I want to bring joy back.  I want to truly be joyful in all circumstances. I want to roll around in joy like a dog rolls around in the spring grass after being holed up inside all winter.  I want laughter to come from the deepest part of me because of true joy and that laughing and celebrating doesn't diminish the fact that I miss those I love.  I want Joy to be more than a simple acronym in my life.

Every year I start off with a word and never know what God will do.  But He does.  I'm excited to see how He restores my Joy.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: Be Intentional

This past year, I chose the phrase "Be Intentional" as my word/phrase for the year.  At the end of 2012, I did this for the first time by choosing "It's Yours, Lord" as my phrase for 2013.  It was so appropriate for that year I've decided to attempt to choose a word or phrase each year to be my theme.  As 2014 comes to a close, I like to reflect on the impact of that phrase this past year.

I have to admit I really didn't know how this would take shape, though I had a few ideas.  Yet, I see how it has shaped my life this past year, and most likely years to come. 

Multiple times this year I did what some call "pay it forward" by paying for the car behind me in the drive-thru.  I did this various times at different places and I felt good when I did it.  Why?  Because nobody knew who I was and giving someone a little blessing for the day, quite unexpected, was just as encouraging to me.  During the year, I was the recipient of the same blessing twice…both times at Starbucks.  My goal of doing this random act of kindness was not to somehow reap the same in return, but to unknowingly bless someone's day…someone God knew needed it.  But experiencing it myself made me realize first hand how great that act can be.  Once the year is over, I plan to still do this at times.  

I've read through the Bible a few times in my life and I decided this past year to do it again.  I stuck with it the whole year (well, I have two more days) and feel accomplished.  But, honestly it didn't spur on a fire to read my Bible more like I was hoping it would do.  Oh, God's Word doesn't return void and I can recall many times the passage I would read fit perfectly into my life.  But, I felt like I was doing it to check off something on my list, which wasn't my desire.  I did this reading every night before I went to bed to focus my mind on things above and off of the temporal to help me turn off my brain to sleep.  And that did work.  Going forward, I think I'll continue this nighttime routine, but with a more directed Scripture devotional time (somewhat like I have in the morning) that doesn't make me feel like I'm doing a task.

With three more classes remaining, this entire year I've balanced a full-time job, classes for my MBA, teaching at church (sometimes twice a week) and maintaining a social life and down time.  Being intentional was a way of life.  I had to manage my time to accomplish everything in my life.  I made a commitment not to give up my service at church or all of my social activities for school.  That took a lot of planning and intentional time management.  By the grace of God, I did it.  And, hopefully at the end of June, I'll possess my MBA and I am simply amazed at God's provision and direction for me to accomplish that task.

As I type this post, I'm reminded of two things.  First, each of the areas I reflected upon my intentionality has caused me to continue that "habit" in the future.  I guess that's what this phrase did for me.  It helped me to remember to be intentional and make it a way of life.  Second, as I sit here and type this post tonight, I am reflecting on the day's events.  I attended the funeral of a friend I've known for more than 20 years who was just two years younger than me and died of cancer.  Ivan lived a life that touched many.  As my friends and I have shared and grieved, the idea of intentionality is buried under the surface….really unknown to us.  We want to be intentional.  Our days are numbered, yet we know not the number of our days.  We need to make each day count and be intentional in every way we can.  

I'm praying over my word for 2015.  I'll be posting a blog in the coming days with the reveal.  In the meantime, I'll reflect on being intentional and continuing to make that part of the fabric of my life.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quin the Elf

Wheels up!
Last Christmas season, I was discussing how I would love to do Elf on a Shelf for my team at work.  For those who reside under a rock, Elf on a Shelf is designed for children.  He comes out at the beginning of December and magically appears different places to let the kids know that he's watching and reporting back to Santa.  Some people find this practice creepy and manipulative, but people, can't we just have some good, clean fun in life?  My intent to bring the Elf to life on the job was to bring joy during the few weeks of work before we all crumble into exhaustion before our annual holiday shutdown.  

My friend, Letha, bought me an Elf last year around mid-December and I decided to redeem the final week before our company shutdown to introduce him to the team and do a few pranks.  It was a hit and I was excited for this season to bring him out again with a whole lot more antics.  I named him "Quin" in honor of our company "QuinStreet" and during the rest of the year he had a cute cupcake outfit to wear to celebrate each worker's birthday.  He donned their desktop until the next birthday, to which he was moved.  So Quin is a part of the team all year long.

Do you wanna build a snowman?
I sat down over the Thanksgiving break and created a calendar for each work day.  I outlined what Quin would do so I could procure the items needed and be sure to bring them in the day before each event.  For those who know me, this would me my OCD side coming out.  Pinterest was a wonderful resource and the more I followed, the more ideas I found.  With my current school term at that time, I was a bit stressed at pulling this off, but I'm also very Type A and determined, so it was happening.  Quin has zip-lined through the office, did an Elfie Selfie (with crayons), went fishin' (for goldfish), went deep into a bag of chocolate and, today, is trapped in a mason jar with "Help!" shining through.  Tomorrow is our last day before our holiday shutdown, and he'll have one more hurrah until next year.


Spider-Elf!
I'm really a kid at heart.  And although I found a lot of joy in doing this for my team, I suspected they'd think I'd lost my marbles.  But, gratefully, they embraced the idea!  (And not just to feel sorry for me).  I don't have children and my team are like my "kids" - sad to say I'm old enough to be some of their Moms.  So since I don't have children to mesmerize with my creative abilities, my team will be my outlet.  Merry Christmas everyone!