Thursday, February 11, 2016

Snow on Robinson Mountain

After a long dry spell, I finally had reservations to return to Robinson Mountain.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know exactly where Robinson Mountain is...it's wherever my sweet friends, Mark and Sharon Robinson live.  My last visit was the summer of 2013, and with MBA studies the next two years, my travel was limited.  I knew, and felt, it was time for a return visit.

Equally as exciting was being able to visit their new home.  About a year ago, they moved from Brentwood, TN, to Gallatin, TN, to a cozy home that I was thrilled to experience.  We made plans and as providence would have it, the biggest snowstorm of the season was to hit that very weekend.  Again, as a follower of my blog, you know I'm the Jim Cantore traveler. 

As the weather forecasters kept upping the accumulation, and the treacherous conditions that would occur right down my route to Robinson Mountain, caused me to think my weekend would be a bust.  Thankfully, once I knew my travel day was going to be questionable, Sharon suggested I come down the night before to avoid the weather.  I scrambled together, packed, and off I went.  It was smooth sailing and no issues at all, and I arrived with some rain sprinkling but temperatures above freezing.

Their new home is precious!  The Robinsons would be the perfect owners of a Bed and Breakfast, because they make you feel like you are tucked away in the Von Trapp Lodge in Vermont.  Their new home has a "guest suite" area where there are two bedrooms flanking the guest bathroom.  One bedroom has twin beds for the children who visit.  My bedroom came with all the comforts of home...a lovely gift on the bed, which included a box of Nashville-favorite Goo-Goo Clusters, and a sign on the bureau that said "Free WiFi" and how to connect.  

We went to bed, knowing the snow was coming and upon waking in the morning, I found a note in the bathroom that said, "Welcome to Robinson Inn Snow Day!  No makeup and let's enjoy the day!"  Sharon worked from home that day and Mark's company had closed after the area got about 5-6 inches.  Sharon and Mark are northerners, so they chuckle at the response of snow in the south, but we enjoyed being snowed in and the snow continued to fall. Sharon keeps the birds fed, so we could watch out their glass doors as the birds hovered around the feeders to get food.  

On Saturday morning, Mark got up and shoveled the drive and walkway, and the neighbor's drive and walkway.  We ended up having Day Two snowed in and it was glorious!  We talked, read, colored (yes, Sharon and I had our adult coloring books) and ate.  Mark and Sharon cooked, and I enjoyed the fruits of their labor (pun intended).  About midday we learned church was canceled the next day and the pastor sent an outline for a family worship time.  Although I was excited to attend their new church, I was equally excited to have this sweet, special time at Robinson Inn.  Before we turned in for the evening we drank hot chocolate and watched old movies - and an episode or two of Chuck.  My kind of day.

Sunday morning worship was great!  We sang while Sharon accompanied on the piano and we looked at the life of Peter, as their church was preparing to start a new series on 1 Peter the following week.  After enjoying lunch together, I left for home around 4pm my time.  By this time, the roads were mostly clear and it was a great drive home.

We never left the house, but it was a sweet three days of quality time with two of my favorite people.  I never understand the mysteries of how God brings people together, but I'm certainly glad He brought us together.  This is a friendship that is timeless...even into eternity.  

One of my favorite places to be snowed in is with the sweet Robinsons.  I'm glad God providentially allowed for that time of seclusion together to cherish our friendship.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Musings for the Week: Snowstorms, Coloring Books and The Oscars

I haven't posted my musings in quite some time...so without further ado...

1.  This past weekend proved to be the first ginormous snowstorm of the season.  Well, not in my neck of the woods, though predicted to be a monster, but in the New York and DC area.  I headed south (not too south) to Nashville, TN, specifically Gallatin, TN to visit Robinson Mountain (blog post to come on that visit).  I left a day early to beat the storm and was comfy and cozy at Robinson Inn for the duration of my visit.  Mark and Sharon Robinson are snow veterans.  Mark is from Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Sharon from the great state of Vermont where the maple syrup runs slow and easy.  Their take on these "snowstorms" of 4-6 inches are eye rollers for them.  They know how to deal with snow at real ginormous levels.  I'm always amazed at the drama that the media ensues with their reports.  The teasers leading into the weather make you think Big Foot is afoot, yet when all is said and done, if you use common sense, you'll normally be fine.  No wonder people stress out.  Thank you media for the amazing hype that is amplified all across social media.  People need to relax, get some chips and salsa and stay home.

2.  I've recently entered into the world of adult coloring books.  I've always loved to color, but had used the Doc McStuffins and Disney Princess Coloring Books for the younger set.  All of a sudden the world discovered what a mentally relaxing thing coloring is and hence a whole slew of adult coloring books were born.  My crayons and colored pencils did ok, but due to the detail of these pictures, I found the need to purchase some Crayola Supertips markers, for those small areas.  I pondered on why this activity is so relaxing and I think, for me, it's because it makes me slowdown, which I'm oft not to do. I have to take time to color in small detail areas and reflect on what colors to choose - which is probably the hardest part of coloring for me.  I've completed about 3 pictures, so I'm on my way, and feeling relaxed.

3.  For readers of my blog, you know I'm begun the 2016 Oscar Challenge.  Don't go searching the Internet for it, because I made it up.  I've challenged myself to see as many Oscar nominated movies (starting with Best Picture) by Oscars night.  When the Oscar nominations were announced, I'd already seen two - The Martian and Brooklyn - so I knew I only had six more to go in that category.  I've since seen Bridge of Spies and, just yesterday, saw The Big Short.  I'm rather enjoying this challenge because it's causing me to see movies I might not have chosen otherwise.  After seeing The Big Short, my vote is still for Bridge of Spies as Best Picture, but if The Big Short wins, I wouldn't be disappointed.  It was a well-crafted piece on the housing market crash of 2008.  It helps explain what all the terms meant surrounding the events, and in a clever way.  I realized as I left the movie that of the 8 Best Picture nominees, 4 of them are based on true stories - Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, Spotlight and The Revenant.  We're drawn to real life on the big screen.  I haven't seen Spotlight or The Revenant yet, but my gut tells me one of these four will take the Oscar.  We're a people who look to the screen for re-telling of real life, not for escape.  On to the next movie!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bridge of Redemption

I'm on a personal challenge to see as many of the Oscar nominated movies as possible by the Oscar Awards ceremony night, starting with Best Picture.  I had already seen two of the eight when the nominations were announced, so I was one-fourth of the way to the first goal.

Last Friday night I went to see Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks.  Note, there will be some spoilers in this blog post, so if you plan to see it, you may want to bookmark this for reading pleasure later.  I've seen The Martian and Brooklyn, both great movies, but after seeing this movie, it has my current vote for Best Picture.

The story takes place during the Cold War where Russian spies were infiltrating the US and vice versa.  A Russian spy was apprehended and the government approached Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks) to represent him in a court of law - because everyone deserves a "fair" trial.  Donovan was an insurance lawyer and hadn't tried a criminal case in years, but he took on this task as a way to serve his country.

Paralleling to this story is the story of an American solider who was captured as a spy by the Russians and what ensues is a story of trade.  One for one.  The story involves the negotiating skills of Jim Donovan to not only trade the Russian spy for the US soldier, but also for an additional US student being held.  The story beautifully depicted the terrible times that were the Cold War and the building of the Berlin Wall.  Watching history on the screen was surreal.

At the end of the movie, when the trade was made, it was made on the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, the exchange for one man for one man was made.  The tension and drama of the build up as the confirmation was waiting from Checkpoint Charlie that the student had also been released kept you on the edge of your seat.  I've spoiled enough, I won't go any further.

As I watched the movie and Jim Donovan (who was a real person) fight for the lives of two Americans, I also observed him seeing the value in the life of the Russian.  His negotiating ability was to keep everyone coming out of this back to their home country, but also in good hands.  His relationship with the Russian Spy and their connection was captivating.  And more than once Jim uttered the words we hear so often today - All lives matter.

The Glienicke Bridge, the Bridge of Spies, was a place of redemption for Rudolf Abel, Russian Spy, and Frances Powell, US Soldier.  Jim Donovan sacrificed a lot to bring these men to redemption....and back to their home countries.  

Bigger than a negotiation with government officials or CIA representatives stands a Man who bridged the gap for us.  Jesus sacrificed more than a lot.  He sacrificed His Life so that I might be redeemed.  That Bridge was Calvary, and His life was exchanged for mine.  Because He knew all lives matter.  Soli deo Gloria! 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Walking on Sunshine

I love a comfortable shoe.  Honestly, if I could wear flip flops year round, I'd be in Heaven....which I expect that footwear to be accompanying my glorified body in Heaven one day.  This appreciation for comfortable shoes I inherited from my Dad.  My Mom used to say that unless he could wiggle his toes freely in a pair of shoes, he didn't like them.  I'm the same way.

I've been searching a long time for a comfortable walking shoe/sneaker to no avail.  Being a huge Crocs fan, I've continued to wear those consistently, but I really longed for a shoe that fit just right and could be deemed a solid walking shoe for all year round.  One day while out with my friend, Ashley, I noticed her shoes - Skechers GoWalk Memory Foam.  I had perused these shoes online and wondered if they lived up to the hype.  I asked her how she'd like them and she raved at how comfortable they were.  Folks, I thought "I may have just found a winner."

I began to search online to find the best deal for a pair in my size and preferably black because black is the universal color.  I finally found them on the Skechers site and placed my order.  Anticipation was growing waiting on my shipment to arrive.

When I received my shoes, I put them on and it felt dreamy!  It should.  I was walking on memory foam, the stuff of mattresses!  The true test would be the next day when I wore them all day.  For me, sometimes shoes feel good when you first put them on, but after a day of wear, my feet hurt and they don't finish well.  The next day I wore them and it was like walking on sunshine!  All day long I felt airy and free as I walked in these newly-found jewels.  

Cinderella is my favorite Disney princess - and my alter ego - and I felt like Prince Charming had just placed the glass slipper on my foot!  They fit perfectly and I was on my way to a happily ever after for my feet.  

Monday, January 04, 2016

2016: :Contentment

Happy 2016!  Wow, just saying 2016 seems somewhat trippy.  I remember when saying 2000 was a game changer.  As a new year begins, I kick it off by choosing a word for for the year.  Last year I chose "Joy" and you can read my recap on how that went and what I learned.  Choosing words have been my goal each year beginning in 2013.  Resolutions seem so 1993 and I do much better when I immerse myself in a word to focus on for the year that can touch every part of my life.  

This year my word is Contentment.  I have to give props to my word last year for bringing me to this word for 2016.  If someone had told me in 2006 where I would be today and what I would have experienced, I may have crawled into the fetal position under my bed, never to come out.  In those 10 years I've been through a company acquisition, loss of my Dad, loss of my Stepmom, and loss of friends who have passed on.  In more upbeat news, I've kept the same job during that time (which for me is a feat!) and completed my MBA.  But I'm still single (being factual, not lamenting) and some other things are the same.  After the experiences of the last 10 years, my life has changed in ways I wouldn't have imagined.

My pastor's sermon yesterday was on target, as always, and he mentioned that this Christmas was the first time he had no one to call on Christmas because his immediate family has now all passed.  I could empathize with him.  The first year I had no one to call in my immediate family was 2014 and it was strange.  But God has blessed me with friends that are family and I'm far from want of love at Christmas.  I do believe, though, if I had no one, I would probably find myself reaching out to others who have no one.  Because I get it.

So last year, I focused on Joy.  Joy whether it be during the good times or bad.  And during that time, I learned a lot about contentment.  No, I may not be where I thought I would be 10 years ago, but I am confident that where I am today is right where I am supposed to be.  That took a lot of God working on my heart to be able to say that without hesitation.  I've never truly lamented my singleness, but have always hoped that one day God would bring the one He had for me into my life.  What I've learned is that shouldn't stop my contentment.  My life is abundantly full!  (even without a man) And whether I'm single, dating or married, that status of my life doesn't drive my contentment.  But apart from that, as a human, I find myself in a state of worry, complaining or fear that steals not only my joy but my contentment.  And honestly, that's a horrible place to be, and makes me not much fun to be around.  

During my year of Joy, I would stop often and realize how contented I was.  I almost surprised myself!  What I learned from that is contentment is found when my foundation is in the Lord, Who brings me joy.  As I thought on my word for this year, it seemed a no-brainer.  Contentment.  

This year, I plan to focus on contentment.  Immerse myself in it.  Make sure that on days when I lean towards negativity or cynicism, I stop and ponder on my contentment.  God allowed me a few snapshots this year of that place and it was joyful.  I look forward to seeing how God will further set my course of contentment in 2016.