Thursday, August 31, 2017

Table Topic: Summer 2017

This summer is flying by as we are fast approaching the Labor Day weekend.  Where has the summer gone?  Literally I think I have whiplash from the flipping of the calendar.  My blog can tell that given I've been a one-post-per-month this summer.  In an effort to remedy that for August, I'm posting a Table Topic for the day....

What was the highlight(s) of your Summer 2017?

Given my busy summer, you'd think I'd have a flurry of highlights, but it's been full but nothing super spectacular...except my one highlight....The PopCast Live Show.  Probably my favorite podcast of all time is The PopCast.  I've been listening for more than a year, and literally laugh profusely at every episode.  Knox and Jamie are a tremendous duo.  This summer, they kicked off their live summer tour in Louisville!  I couldn't believe all my dreams were coming true!  The PopCast Live Show....in Louisville...and with special guest, Anne Bogel, the host of the What Should I Read Next podcast....which I was a guest on Episode 34.  The cherry on top was my submission to Celebrity Death Panel.  Even though the venue had no air and it was 135 degrees, I would do it all over again.  

What is your Summer 2017 highlight?

Let your sun shine...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

All in All Journaling Devotional: A Review

I was privileged to be a part of the launch team for Sophie Hudson's newest book, "All in All Journaling Devotional: Loving God Wherever You Are."  I was added to the team later in the process, so I've been working through the 100 days presented in this devotional in order to give you my complete and honest review.  This devotional came out on August 1, so you can get your own copy right now!

It's hard for me to simply write a review like I would normally do for a traditional book. I could say, "If you know a teenage or college-aged girl, go buy this for them right now!"  Or I could say, "If you are a teenage or college-aged girl, go buy this right now!"  Shoot, I could really say, "Everyone go buy this right now!" But, I'm going to summarize it in one of my favorite formats.  The Top 5 Reasons you need to buy this devotional, from the home office of B&H Publishing in Nashville, TN.  (That's who published this devotional...so you can keep up)

5.  The theology is sound - One of the things I look for in Christian books, especially those targeted to young souls, is the soundness of the theology.  Heaven knows I hear enough heresy to keep me on my toes, I don't want to recommend a book to tender girls who could be blown around by the wind.  Sophie is sound in her doctrine.  She hits that straight on in her own wonderful way.  Salvation is through grace alone, and not from works.  She doesn't dive deep into exegetical dissection, but she explains the Scriptures in an easy way that I believe the Lord meant it to be so we understand His grace and merciful gift of salvation.

4.  Sophie Hudson - Ok, so I'm not personal friends with Sophie, though I have to admit I fangirl quite often and might pee my pants if I ever met her, but she is the real deal.  There is nothing "put on" about her.  She has the southern humor and charm that makes reading her words feel like she's sitting across the table from you.  To add to that, Sophie spent years teaching high school English, and is now a mentor of sorts for girls at the high school where she taught.  Folks, she's on the front lines.  She knows first hand what this age group is dealing with on a daily basis.  You can tell that in the topics she covers.

3. You can do this with your daughter or a girl you mentor - I'm not the mother of a young daughter.  But if I were, I would buy two copies - one for me and one for her, and I'd suggest we go through this study together and talk about it together.  The daily devotions won't take more than 15 minutes or so, depending on how much you want to journal, so it shouldn't be tough for anyone to do.  It's 100 days, which, I'll tell you, go by fast!  And even though the target is for young girls, you'll grow in Christ too.  It seemed her lessons hit me right where I needed them even in my life as a bit (cough) older woman.  

2.  The topics covered are relevant - I applaud Sophie on presenting the challenges of social media and it's impact on these young girls.  She doesn't tell them to get off social media, which I appreciate, because, you know what, they won't.  But she does shoot very straight about the dangers that come from being too entangled in the world wide web.  Sophie presents very practical advice.  For example, if you struggle with posting things inappropriately on SnapChat, have your grandmother connected to your account and she'll see everything.  When you know your grandmother will see it, you'll think twice about what you post.  Technology isn't going away, and it does serve good purposes.  What's Instagram today will be another platform in five years to pull and tug at our young people.  Sophie really navigates those waters well.

1.  You have a young woman you just can't reach - Maybe your the Mom, or teacher, or mentor of a young girl in your life and she is going through a stage that no matter what you say to her, she won't listen.  For whatever reason, she's battling hearing the truth.  Sometimes, we don't learn to back away and pray like we've never prayed before, but we want to march right into that land mine and cause it to blow up and then we've created more division.  Let me give you some advice.  Buy this devotional.  Wrap it up in a beautiful package (or put it in a snappy gift bag, like I would because...I'm a better rapper than a wrapper), add a handwritten note to this young woman and give it to her.  Then walk away.  Start praying.  Let the words from His Word penetrate her heart through the vehicle Sophie has created.  Then, if God does some big stuff (which He's often likely to do in those areas we feel are long beyond anyone's help), let Sophie know.  Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @boomama and give her an update.    I'm gonna tell you right now, there is nothing more that will bless her heart - and cause the tears to flow - than to hear that testimony.  

Jesus is our All in All and when we remember that, life always can be viewed in the right perspective.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Tale of Two Gardens

I have never successfully grown a plant.  Ever.  I've tried growing houseplants, miniature indoor rose plants, African Violets (yes, I know those are tough), and even succulents...SUCCULENTS.  The plant that NOBODY can kill, but I can.  My one and only succulent did last about 3 months, which is a longer life than my other attempts at green thumbing.

I'm not an outdoor girl, so I don't even want to attempt to try and keep a garden alive.  That's like spinning plates, right?  I can't keep one potted something alive, how in the world would I keep three or four different plants growing.  The one thing I've had success growing is butterflies, so I'll give myself the moniker of crazy butterfly lady because I won't be a crazy cat lady...I don't like cats.

Even though I can't grow those beautiful flowers or budding plants, I do love flowers. They are so fragrant and colorful.  The other night I was walking down the sidewalk of a local outdoor shopping center and noticed the large urns of flowers they had planted along the way.  Man, I wanted to just go "snip, snip" and take a bouquet home, but I figured if there would be anyone that would get caught stealing fresh flowers, it would be me. 

Recently I was asked to be on the launch team for Sophie Hudson's newest book, "All in All: A Journaling Devotional."  If you've never read her work, let me stop a moment and tell you to go order all her books.  She writes like she talks and she's southern through and through, but most importantly she loves Jesus.  This new devotional journal is targeted to youth and college age girls but as I'm going through each of the 100 days, I'm enjoying her perspective on how Jesus truly is our All in All.

She mentioned how perfectly God has placed us in this world with the glory of sunrises and the calming beauty of sunsets.  God could have decided to just turn the lights off and on, but He didn't.  Sophie reminded me that He chose to place us in this beautiful garden on Earth.  That got me looking around for the uniqueness of His Creation.  I really did stop and smell the roses - or gardenias or whatever was in that large shopping center urn.  

That got me thinking about the first garden...Eden.  We really blew that one.  Adam and Eve had it perfect...truly perfect.  But the desire to be like God and not be obedient, caused them to be cast out of that perfect place.  And they lived with a list of other things God told them as consequences for their sin.  

We focus a lot on how we live in a broken world - and we do.  And how we won't experience that perfection again until Jesus returns to bring the world back in order - and that's true.  But think about this.  We live in a garden.  Oh, it has sinful people, horrid tragedies, and brokenness at every corner.  But really look around.  We DO live in a garden.  God could have place us in a dark and dreary place.  But we have gorgeous sunsets, white sandy beaches, fragrant flowers, a bright sun that rises majestically, and even caterpillars that turn to butterflies.  We are blessed.  How much does God love us that He would place us in just a smidgen of the wonderfulness of His Creation to prepare us for that day when we'll live in a New Earth that is beyond our imagination?  One garden that's perfect.  One garden that's broken.  One Rescuer to come again to restore us to perfection.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

You Lyft Me Up

Last week I traveled to the Bay Area of California to spend the week at my company's headquarters.  I hadn't been out west for probably two and a half years, so I was overdue for a visit.  In the past, I normally rented a car since I had the free time to meet other friends for dinner or travel out to the ocean.  This trip wasn't going to afford that luxury, so I opted to go a different route.  Uber or Lyft.

Because of my Type A/OCD tendencies, I did thorough research on each.  Who has the best ratings?  What issues have come up in the past?  Essentially, I wanted to choose the best option for my needs.  After all my research, I decided to go with Lyft.  

My first ride was from the airport to the hotel.  I ordered my Lyft through the handy dandy app and once my ride was claimed, I received a picture of the driver, the model of their car and license plate number.  In exchange, the driver received my name and picture.  Valerie was my driver and not long after she claimed my ride, she called me to confirm my location.  Good thing she did, because I entered it incorrectly.  All ride share apps like Uber and Lyft pick up from the Departures level.  Knowing you are on that level is one thing, but what Terminal and what door is vital for them to find you.  Valerie pulled up, hopped out of the car, and was super nice.  She loaded my bags and off we went.  I even sat in the front seat!  We had a great conversation on the way to the hotel and I told her she made my first ride the best!  

The remainder of the week I was a Lyft Pro.  All the drivers were nice - I did have one that didn't speak English.  I had to quickly say "No hablo espanol" so he knew I was not going to be a great communicator, although I did say "Gracias" when I exited the car.  This service was a game changer.  I never had to wait more than 4 minutes for a ride and it always took me door to door.  And, the cost was so much cheaper than a rental car.  I realize my company pays for these things while I travel, but I try to be a frugal employee.  

Even though I didn't use Uber, many of the drivers I had with Lyft also work for Uber.  The downside of Uber is you can't tip in the app.  Now, many resources tell you that you don't need to tip these drivers, but I like to, especially when they are quick to load up my luggage.  If you are traveling, and especially in large cities, I can't recommend Lyft and Uber enough.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Butterfly Love Shack

As mentioned in my last blog post, I received a butterfly garden to raise my own butterflies through the miraculous wonder of metamorphosis.  I'm happy to report that three of the five butterflies made it out and released to the world on Memorial Day - celebrating the land of the free!

I received my cup of caterpillars on May 10 and released them on May 29.  That means in just 19 days I saw this transformation first hand.  To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement.  Aside from my 8-year-old tendencies at times, this seemed to satisfy my longing for a pet (even though you can't cuddle a caterpillar or butterfly) and was low maintenance.  Plus, I feel like I contributed to nature by releasing them to do what they do for perfect balance in the way God created them.

Once the butterflies emerge from the cocoon, you have four days to nurture them and feed them sugar water, which is about the easiest thing to provide.  I was so glad that all this happened over a long weekend because that meant I could watch them flutter in their habitat and feed them more often.  After this experience, I think I'm going to do this all summer and just order more caterpillars.  I'm not becoming old and a cat lady but old and a lepidopterist.  

One small surprise during this process occurred Sunday evening.  I went to refill the sugar water feeder and found a butterfly clung to the top of the habitat.  Normally when I unzip it, they fly to the bottom.  This time, they didn't.  And I was missing a butterfly when I counted.  I first thought this poor butterfly clinging to the roof of the netted habitat was dead.  And then I looked closer.  It appeared two butterflies had become one.  And, were mating.  Yep.  Seriously.  My butterfly garden had turned into the Love Shack.  I googled "Butterflies mating" to ensure my guess was correct.  And it was.  I had already planned to release them the next day, but I really needed to do it the next day now because the next step in that parade is the female butterfly nesting and laying her 100 eggs.  I enjoy raising butterflies...but not 100.  

Not only have I become a lover of raising butterflies, I've become a butterfly matchmaker.  My insects are getting more action than I am.