Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: Joy

As 2015 comes to a close, I love reflecting on my year through the lens of the one word I chose for the past year.  At the beginning of this year, I chose the word Joy.  This past year has been a year full of joy, even in the midst of not-so-joyful circumstances.

In March, I spoke at our church's annual women's conference on Joy.  I learned much more in preparing for this opportunity than I'm sure anyone else gleaned from my teaching.  As I focused on the story of Nehemiah and the words of Ezra reminding the people that "the joy of the Lord is my strength" I learned that joy is there on the mountaintops and joy is there in the valleys.  Why?  Because the Lord is with me.  Though I may have known that in my head, really immersing myself in that truth really stuck with me.  I love teaching women and I love opportunities to speak and I hope that the words I shared made the same impact on the ladies in attendance as they had on me.

The end of June brought the closing of the last book in the pursuit of my MBA.  After two years, I was done.  Finished.  Complete!  I was ecstatic!  For the first time in two years I wasn't balancing work, church and school and having some resemblance of a social life.  Let's just say that I've been a reading fiend since July 1, and not of the textbook variety.  When I started my MBA, it was just a few weeks after my Dad passed away.  The journey took on a different perspective as I pursued this degree not only for my future career growth, but because Dad knew I was going back to school and was so proud.  On days when I thought I couldn't read one more page about business strategy or economics, I would remember my Dad.  My hero who never went to college and earned his high school education by taking the GED.  Yet, he was one of the smartest men I ever knew.  This was a joyful, albeit exhausting, journey.

In September, I celebrated the culmination of my year of Golden Jubilee.  You see, this was the year I turned the big 5-0 and I prefer to call it "Golden Jubilee" than hitting the half century mark.  I am blessed with so many wonderful friends.    The celebrations were plentiful.  If I was honest, I wasn't really keen on this birthday.  I did accomplish my Master's by 50, but you always reflect on what you haven't done, not what you have accomplished.  But, God is so faithful and I look forward to 50 more years (or however many the Lord blesses me with) to conquer new challenges and reach for my next milestone.  

Lest you think the year was all lollipops and unicorns, there were some sad times as well.  Many of my close friends lost loved ones suddenly or after long illnesses.  Friends faced serious health issues. Work changes abounded.  But that is the part about this year's word - Joy.  Through all of those experiences, I still found joy.  Granted, some of these didn't impact me personally, but in many cases, the losses just brought back the memories of the past losses in my life.  Joy was there.  And it all goes back to the Scripture in Nehemiah...."the joy of the Lord is my strength."  The Lord is my joy and my strength.  Without Him, life is desperately hopeless.  

It's been a great year, full of joy.  Even amidst the darker times.  As I reflect on the year, I am grateful for His mercy and grace.  As I look forward to 2016, and meditate on my next word, I know that my word for the upcoming year will be rooted in the foundation of joy.  Stay tuned for the big reveal!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Good News at Christmas

Tis the season for holiday cheer and mayhem.  And the real meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus.  But amidst all the chaos and cacophony, the good news of Christmas gets lost.  More than that, our news feeds are replete with negative news from all over our city, country and world.  It can be quite a downer when I'm trying to feel all jolly, and Ho-ho-ho like.  But the last few days, I've experienced some things that have warmed my heart amidst the negativity.

Last Friday morning, my day started off with a group Facebook message from one of my high school classmates.  She had observed another classmate of ours posting something the night before about feeling suicidal.  Sadly, I've not talked or heard from this classmate since high school.  Apparently her life has turned very difficult.  Her husband left her, she is addicted to drugs, and her son was taken away from her on Thursday.  As high school classmates, we all rallied together to reach out to her, encourage her and pray for her.  We banded together to donate money to buy Christmas gifts for her son, and are seeking out resources in the area to help her, especially a church.  

The coolest thing about this is how our classmates mobilized.  Social media was used for good.  We were able to reach people near and far, even for a classmate who was struggling and lives across the country from most of us.  People didn't hesitate to give money to help provide Christmas.  Even today, plans are being made to go shopping and we're getting closer to more resources to help her.  Maybe the most amazing thing is this.  We all graduated high school in 1983....32 years ago.  The bond we have transcends time.  

Yesterday morning at work I experienced the second "feel good" event.  One of my employees had noticed a man walking around the parking lot with his dog.  He seemed disoriented.  We have a lot of dog walkers from the area but this guy just didn't seem right.  Two of my male employees went out to check on him.  They discovered he was special needs, and seemed lost, not being able to find his house.  Peter and Jon then called the non-emergency police line and explained the situation and the police said they'd come and make sure they got him home.  The guy couldn't tell them where he lived, and only the first name of his parents.  Peter got ingenious and took the phone number on the dog's tags, Googled it, and did a reverse lookup on the address.  Jon got water for the guy and his dog, and the dog didn't drink any water, which was a good sign they hadn't been out too long.  When the police got there, the work was done and all they had to do was transport the guy and his dog home.

I always say my team rocks, but yesterday, they truly hit it out of the park.  They were alert to a problem, addressed the problem and resolved it.  All before 11am.  On days when work is discouraging and frustrating, being able to do a good deed, just makes the day better.

The best news this Christmas is Jesus' birth.  And that's where I need to focus, but having these sweet events occur to help me remember that the world isn't completely lacking compassion gives me hope to keep plugging on.  One day Jesus will come again, and when that day comes, oh what a joyful time of really good news that will be.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Rose in My Life

This Thanksgiving, like all in the last three years, was different.  Since my Dad passed away in 2013, every Thanksgiving is spent in a new way.  It can be bittersweet, but this year, I reflected a lot on my Mom and past Thanksgivings with her.  

My Mom has been gone 15 years and some holidays I miss her more than others.  This year, I thought about her constantly during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Mainly because of one of the many things she taught me that applies so perfectly today.  One Thanksgiving years ago, we had come home from a day at my Granny's.  For my whole life, until my Granny went into a nursing home, we spent every holiday at her house. She was an amazing cook and I absolutely loved being at my Granny's.  She was a role model to me in being an independent woman.  I digress, but we came home and I had a message from a friend of mine.  This was pre-cell phone days, when you didn't get texts or voicemails and got messages when you returned home.  Ahh, the more relaxed life.  

My friend had spent the day with her family and had gotten home from her festivities and was home alone in her apartment.  I could tell she really didn't want to be alone and no more than I played her message, Mom said "Go on, spend the evening with her.  One day we'll be gone and you'll need to make your own memories on holidays."  That was just one way my Mom (and Dad) encouraged me to be independent.  So off I went.  

This year, one of my friends asked me if I had plans for Thanksgiving.  Now that my family is gone, I am blessed with lots of options and open invitations from so many friends that I always have a place to go.  I told her I had many plans but asked what was up.  Her family was going out of state for the holiday and she had to work the day after Thanksgiving, hence, she would be here alone.  I did some checking on some options for us and told her I was free and we'd go out for Thanksgiving.  I called one of my favorite places in the area - Claudia Sanders Dinner House - and confirmed their Thanksgiving buffet schedule, and when they predicted it to be the least busy.  We arrived about 4:30 and had a minimal 10 minute wait.  The food was amazing (as always) and made even better because they bring around hot yeast rolls about every 15 minutes.  Not good for the diet, but oh so good for the tummy!  It was a fun time with great food.

I thought much about that scene with my Mom I described earlier.  How years ago she taught me to make my own memories on holidays.  I couldn't stop thinking about that one moment that seemed insignificant at the time, but has taught me a lesson I'll never forget.  Oh how I wish she was here to tell her, "Mom you were so right!" And I'd share with her how my memory of that lesson is brighter today than it was then.  I'm oh so thankful for countless things, but this year, my Mom is at the top of the list.  She was the sweetest, most fragrant Rose in my life.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Recently, the new Peanuts Movie feature film was released and I was fortunate enough to see it on opening weekend.  For all those Star Wars fans pre-purchasing their movie tickets, I was more geeked over the release of this movie.  

For those who haven't seen it, and plan to, beware, there are some spoilers in this blog.  But, do come back to read this once you've seen it and comment if you agree (or disagree).

I grew up going to Peanuts movies in the theater.  From A Boy Named Charlie Brown to Snoopy Come Home, I didn't miss a showing.  You see, I was a huge Peanuts fan.  So much so, that I was never without a stuffed Snoopy in my arms. I had so many variations of stuffed Snoopy that when one would wear out, my Mom would say "he went to stuffed animal heaven" and I'd get a new one.  Seriously, I'd wear the "fluff" off of them!  I even had a Snoopy that was half the size of me dressed as the Red Baron.  One of the Snoopys made it into my annual photo shoot.  The Red Baron Snoopy was so worn out that his neck flopped to one side from me carrying him around everywhere by his neck before he "retired".  To this day, I still have a stuffed Snoopy.  Don't judge.

Hearing that a new feature film would be released stirred excitement and skepticism all at the same time.  I wanted it to be as good and the movies I remembered, but feared that surely now that Charles Schulz is gone, it wouldn't be the pure representation I longed for.  Au contraire mon frer.  It was simply the best.

The animation was exquisite and stayed true to the form of the original Peanuts cartoons and comics.  No mobile phones, no talk of Facebook or Twitter.  Praise Jesus.  An old-fashioned rotary phone still rang and made an appearance.  All Peanuts movies, cartoons and comics should have this timeless look and feel.  Thank you Blue Sky Productions.

The story has many running themes throughout the movie - a toy airplane for one - that takes us into Snoopy's life as the Red Baron.  And the little Red-Haired Girl plays a big role in the movie.  Charlie Brown is still trying to impress her and it seems, like always, he fails.  When he's recognized for having a perfect score on a test, he realizes it's Peppermint Patty's test, not his.  So, on stage, in front of all his classmates, he admits he's not the guy to receive Miss Othmar's medal.  He walks off the stage hanging his head.  At the end of the school year, everyone picks summer pen pals, and much to Charlie Brown's surprise, the little Red-Haired Girl picks him!  As she is getting on the bus to go off to camp, he asks her why.  And her response..."That's easy. It's because I admire the type of person you are."   Charlie Brown says "a wishy-washy failure?" and she recounts all the reasons why she admires him (which I'll omit so you can really enjoy the movie).  

If I was a Mom, I'd run to the theater to take my children to see this movie.  It is wholesome family entertainment, but more than that, it teaches them that good guys (or gals) don't always finish last.  Thank you Schulz family for bringing back my childhood friends in the most amazing way.  

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Table Topics: Fall Favorites

It's Fall y'all!  Ok, that phrase is not one of my favorites, but this Table Topic theme is all about favorites...and not so favorites.

Tis the season in Louisville where you need to keep summer and fall clothes options readily available at all times.  Last week we had two days of 50 degree weather, and then back up to the glorious 70s.  But it is October and time to think about that short season of autumn that happens before we hit the cold, hard winter months.

I have to start with something that isn't my Fall favorite...Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Let the lashing begin.  I adore Starbucks and I adore pumpkin, but put the two together and I'm not impressed.  I've had one Pumpkin Spice Latte and it was less than enjoyable, which isn't my normal Starbucks experience.  Now, I'm happy to eat a pumpkin muffin from Starbucks whilst sipping my White Mocha, but spare me the pumpkin-flavored coffee.

A Fall favorite is s'mores!  Now s'mores can be made all year long, even during the summer camping seasons, but s'mores around a Fall bonfire are just yummy.  I'll share my s'mores indoors recipes.  First, hover a marshmallow over a fireplace and you got the makings of yummy goodness.  Or, if you are desperate, over a candle. That takes much longer and may end up tasting like vanilla bean.  The easiest recipe is to put your s'more together and then zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Voila!  S'more!

Another favorite is the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin fragrance from Bath & Body Works.  This is by far my favorite smell and I try and stock up for those months when they don't have it in stock, even online.  There is something about this scent that makes me feel like wearing sweaters, curling up with a good book, or munching on popcorn while watching a movie in my snuggie.  I stumbled upon this fragrance years ago and I'm SO thankful they haven't discontinued it.  My sales alone I hope will keep it popular.

So, now it's your turn...

What are your Fall Favorites?

I'll "leaf" the discussion in your hands...

Monday, October 05, 2015

Reflections on Oregon

Last week, Chris Harper-Mercer, opened gunfire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  Nine victims lost their lives and it was ruled by investigators that Chris, the shooter, committed suicide after shots back and forth with police.  My heart breaks when I hear of these shootings, but sadly, I feel the more I hear, the more numbness sets in as to the gravity of what happened.

Whenever a mass shooting like this occurs, the cry for gun control rings loudest.  I agree that we need to control the accessibility to guns, but the issue goes so much deeper than that.  What if Chris decided to build a bomb and blow up the college, with most likely even more lives lost.  How do we instill "bomb control?"  

I grieve for those that have lost loved ones, a pain that is difficult to reconcile.  But, I also grieve for Chris' parents.  His father was interviewed by CNN and he stated that his son lived with his Mom in Oregon and he hadn't seen him in two years since they moved.  The very next statement in the CNN article said that they had a good father/son relationship.  Whoa, what?!  You haven't seen your son in two years, yet you have a good father/son relationship?  My heart grieves for the destruction of the family unit.  We will never know what the split of Chris' mother and father did to him, but even deeper, we will never know how that impacted Chris' mental and emotional state.  God help our families to turn to You, make You the center and not take the marriage covenant so lightly.  

It was reported that Chris asked each person if they were a Christian and those that weren't were shot, but not in the head.  If you answered affirmatively, Chris shot you in the head.  Reports said he even referenced them seeing God quickly.  What a powerful testimony these victims have.  Would I be that strong?  I surely hope so.  I don't know what sickens me most - the act of the killing of innocent people, or the pure mockery of Christianity.  Lord help us.

When the news broke and my social media feeds filled with speculation and cries for gun control, the first thing I thought of was the true problem here.  Sin.  Chris was struggling with an unbelief in the One who created him, possibly due to a manifested feeling of being the cause of his parents' divorce.  The next thing I thought of was how little we value life.  The continual saga of the Planned Parenthood videos and their destruction of babies in the womb reveal our world's inability to value life in the womb.  If we don't value life in the womb, why do you think we'd value it outside of the womb...those lives attending a community college?  

I heard a report today that a woman who was shot said to Chris, "I'm sorry you've had the life you've had" and he shot her.  This tells me he expressed his feelings on his life very openly to these people.  And his outpouring of this emotion came through the killing of innocent people.  

The problem isn't gun control.  The problem is this world needs a Savior.  Even so, Lord Jesus come quickly.

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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Top Five Things I Learned From Sales Summit 2015

Each year our Sales team comes together for our annual Sales Summit.  The last two years it has been held in the great city of Louisville which is always fun times for me.  It's great as a hometown girl to show off my city to people who are fascinated by our southern/midwestern town.  Our 2015 meeting occurred last week and while it's still fresh on my mind, I'd like to bring you the top five things I learned from this year's Summit.....

5.  Some Uber drivers are directionally challenged. - After the first day of meetings, the management team ate at the lovely restaurant, Corbett's.  It's located in an odd, but very obvious spot, right near the only Costco in town.  When we finished, my boss and I were heading home while the other four managers took an Uber to the hotel.  They ordered their ride, but somehow their Uber ended up at the nearby Kosair Hospital.  Then found himself circling the area like a scene from National Lampoon's European Vacation.  He finally got to the pick up spot after one of the managers basically waved him down in the middle of the road.  Let's just say he knows where Corbett's is now.  

4.  Event planning from a distance can be less than desirable - Our corporate office handles all the planning of this event every year.  Note to readers: Our corporate office is in Silicon Valley.  They do their best, but not being a native or living in the area, they lack in some of the knowledge to make sure things are in order.  One of those things was shuttles for the team when leaving for the airport.  The hotel was located on Hurstbourne Lane and all the departures were to happen during rush hour.  The time for pickup to get to the airport was only an hour and a half before the flight took off.  All you Louisvillians are going, "WHAT?!"  You know what rush hour is like on I-64 and I-264.  Non-residents don't.  A last minute change the day before departure saved many a flight from being missed.

3.  Presentations on a bus ride are challenging - This year's group activity was for teams to come up with a product using a Solo Cup that had nothing to do with drinking.  It was decided that we would present these ideas on the bus ride to Frankfort for our outing to Buffalo Trace Distillery.  Though the idea was great, the execution was a bit flawed.  The bus was loud, the driver was surely named Mr. Toad, and thus the humor and wit intertwined in these presentations was lost.  The coolest moment was when a team used a Star Wars theme and cut out the logo in their cup and then shined their iPhone flashlight through it to display the image on the roof of the bus.  No sound needed and that got my vote.  

2.  Not all food served is identifiable by foreigners - Our buffet dinner after our outing was absolutely delicious.  A veritable smorgasbord of Kentucky delights.  Mini Hot Browns for appetizers, BBQ Beef Brisket that melted in your mouth, and homemade pies, including Derby Pie.  Along with those delectables was a southern dish called corn pudding.  As I went thru the line, one of the California Sales Reps asked, "Rose, is this dessert?"  I said, "No child, that's how we eat vegetables in Kentucky."  (Ok, I didn't say "child" but wish I did)  It was a huge hit and people were going back for seconds and thirds of that stuff.  People live such a sheltered life outside of the Bluegrass.  

1.  You can meet some of the most amazing people in the most unique places - Our tour guide at Buffalo Trace was Freddie Johnson.  He is a third generation employee at the distillery.  And he was the most fascinating, interesting tour guide I've ever had for any tour.  After our event, my boss found an article telling more about Freddie and it made me love him even more.  Every time we'd move from place to place, he'd say "Life's a journey, let's go!"  Yes, sometimes that's a good reminder for more than just a distillery tour. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Table Topics: Journaling

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my friend, Matthew, prior to his European Summer Extravaganza.  Somehow the topic of journaling came up and he indicated he journals, pretty regularly.  I was shocked.  A man journaling?  Get outta here!  He said, "How else will my grandchildren know about me?" which was a brilliant reason.  Given Matthew is somewhat of a unique soul, I challenged him to find two other men that journal...and we did.  Wow.  Revelation!  

This caused me to take this to the men that are my Facebook friends and survey the audience.  Again, I was surprised at the number of men that did journal regularly or had in the past and wanted to resume that practice.  Fascinating.  I found that more men have or do journal than I imagined, and I find that very endearing.  If you are a man who journals, Brava!!  

Now that I've fininshed my MBA, one of the items on my MBA Bucket List is to start journaling again.  I have done it during certain seasons in my past, but with school added to the mix of my busy life, journaling was far from my radar to continue.  I've ordered a nice composition notebook that should arrive Friday and I'll be on my way.  I may never have grandchildren, but someone might like to read them one day.  

That brings us to today's Table Topic.  

Do you journal?  If so, why?  

Get your pen and paper ready....or your fingers nimble...and discuss.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Love Wins

Last week the Supreme Court passed the decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states of the United States.  The decision passed by a slight 5-4 margin.  Unless you live under a rock, the information world has been all a buzz about this with both sides speaking loudly regarding their stand.  Rainbows are everywhere and even the White House was lit up like a rainbow.  

I've hesitated to respond at all to this discussion, but after much rumination, for which this blog is named, I think I finally have my thoughts together.  No matter which side you are on, I plead with you to read this entire blog post.  Some of it you may agree with, and some of it you may not.  But here in the land of the free, I'm glad I have the freedom to express it.

I do not believe in same-sex marriage.  Why?  Because I believe the Bible clearly indicates that marriage is between one man and one woman.  A wise person once said "you can't legalize morality" and for that, just because I believe the Bible in its entirety doesn't mean I can force my beliefs on you.  But men and women died for me to have the freedom to believe that.  And practice that.  Though I may not be a supporter of the Supreme Court decision, it doesn't mean I'm forlorn for this world.  God is still on His Throne, and one day all things will be made right.  And I can pray for my nation and my leaders for the days ahead.  

I would like to address the people on both sides because I feel there are things I want to say to everyone.  I have friends and acquaintances that are homosexual or support the gay lifestyle.  And I still love them.  

To those that support same-sex marriage:  For you this decision was a long time coming and many of you feel very vindicated for what has been withheld from you for so long.  The right to marry legally.  Though I don't agree with your lifestyle, I hope what has occurred will provide you fulfillment.  I don't believe any Supreme Court decision is the answer to life's questions, or will solve all your problems.  I do ask that you respect those who believe the opposite of you.  The freedom you have now to marry legally is the same freedom others deserve to practice what they believe to be truth from the Bible.  Denying those of that freedom is no different than the denial you've had (until last week) to be recognized as a legally-bound union.

To those that do not support same-sex marriage:  First off, God has not crawled off His Throne.  God loves the homosexual just like He loves you.  The response to this should not be hate, but love.  This can be discouraging to those who believe strongly in God's Word.  But if you do, the Bible warns of these times to come, and more than ever the Gospel needs to be the foundation of all we do.  I fear we Christians have not done a good job at honoring the marriage covenant and taking it so lightly with adultery and other fornication that it truly is no wonder the definition of marriage is skewed.  I pray that as Christians, we will stand more strongly for marriages to be God-centered and God-honoring and help repair what we've torn in two, allowing a non-biblical union to appear more solid.  

By now you may have decided to unfollow me, unfriend me or block me.  I hope not, but understand if you feel the need to do so.  There is not one friend or acquaintance I have that supports same-sex marriage that I don't respect and/or love.  And that's what I hope you leave with.  Love.  Not hate.  Not judgment.  But love.  

Jesus loves me this I know.  And that, folks, is how Love Wins. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Law and The Media

Last Friday, John Stamos, the actor known best as Uncle Jesse on Full House, was arrested for DUI.  Now you may not have heard about this incident because in the media, it was somewhat washed over.  When I first heard of it, the news focused on the fact that he thanked the policemen and how honorable that was. Um, yeah, but, he was driving drunk.  His friends said they were hopeful this was just a one-time mistake, but that he had struggled with alcoholism in the past.  He fell apart when his Mother passed away last September and they suspect that event might have triggered this incident.

Full House is still running as reruns on various cable networks and the much-hyped sequel, Fuller House is still on target for production.  No harm no foul.

Just a month or so ago, evidence surfaced that Joshua Duggar of the famed 19 Kids and Counting had been involved in sexual molestation as a minor.  He publicly apologized for this and stepped down from his job at the Family Research Council.  Consequently, 19 Kids and Counting was pulled from the TLC lineup and there are expectations the show will be canceled.  

Recently on Fox News, Megan Kelly interviewed two of the sisters that were victims - Jessa and Jill - and Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar - about the situation and details surrounding it.  It painted a bit different light on the situation.  To date, Joshua hasn't been interviewed by a news outlet, and part of me wishes he would.  I'd like to hear from him.  The silence is somewhat deafening after an enlightening group of interviews with Megan Kelly.

While I don't condone or approve of either of these actions, I'm a bit baffled at how the response has been so starkly different.  Had John Stamos hurt someone driving drunk, or, heaven forbid, kill someone, would we pull Full House from the lineup?  Would the production of Fuller House be in jeopardy?  I can argue that the target audience of Full House is partially made up of younger kids who could be heavily influenced that getting a DUI is ok.  It's definitely not a "breaking of the law" as serious as molestation.  And, to some degree I would agree.  What we see here are the consequences of actions, and not the action itself.  But breaking the law is breaking the law.

John Stamos was arrested while driving.  Joshua Duggar came forward admitting to his problem.  Yet, it seems one crime is less important than the other one.  I grieve for Joshua Duggar and the family as they deal with this and pray that this addiction he has is under control and he has strong accountability.  But I also grieve for John Stamos who apparently took this DUI lightly.  I pray that he takes this for the warning it is and drives responsibly lest a life be taken from this world because of his actions.  

Both of these situations sadden me.  And I think what makes me saddest is knowing that the media uses the contra-popular life of the Duggars - being public about their Christianity - to fuel the fire behind this situation.  If Jim Bob Duggar had been arrested for DUI, would the show be pulled from the air?  Quite possibly.  

Funny how Phil Robertsons' comments from Scripture on his stand on homosexuality now fade in the background of Duggars, Jenners and Dolezals.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Top Five Things I Learned from My MBA

I'm down to 33 more days left before I will be finished with my MBA.  Wow, these two years have flown by!  Overall I've enjoyed my studies but I am more than ready to lead a busy life instead of a super busy life.  Apart from the grace of God, I have no idea how I did all that I did the past two years and stayed focus on my studies.  In light of my impending freedom, I decided to compile a Top Five list....and now from the home office in Campbellsville, Kentucky...the top five things I learned from my MBA.

5.  I actually enjoy reading business journals.  Much of my study included research of academic and business journals covering interesting topics.  I literally think I would read business journals after I graduate for the knowledge alone.

4.  APA Style is really named for American Psychological Association.  It's a true test of your psychological stamina to stop and cite every unoriginal thought.

3.  When under extreme pressure, I can execute quickly.  I've had some circumstances in my life that caused me to turn around papers and assignments in less than human time frames.  I actually accomplished it and finished well.  See: Grace of God.

2.  I never would have made it through school without PERRLA.  If you don't know what PERRLA is, check out their site.  This simple piece of software plugs into your Word application and allows you to easily write papers in APA Style or MLA Style.  One of my doctor's nurses turned me on to this and I think I owe him my degree.

1.  Group projects stink.  They are the game of Survivor in academia.  I firmly believe that we only have group projects to teach us how to deal with lazy and difficult people.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Different Kind of Derby Day

Derby Day is one of the biggest days in my hometown.  For a local like me, Derby Day is pretty exciting and makes us proud for the world to be tuned in to our festivities for the most memorable two minutes in sports.  For me personally, the last two Derby Days have been less than joyful.  In 2013, on Derby Day, I spent it watching the festivities from my Dad's ICU room.  He was less than interested and most of my day was spent trying to get him to eat.  I was concerned, but was hoping this was just part of the recovery.  It wasn't.  I ended up back at the hospital late that night as my Dad passed from this life into the next.  Forever Derby Day will bring back those memories of my last day with Dad on earth.

Last year, I don't really recall what I did for Derby.  I most likely did what I do when I'm in this type of memory mood and stayed at home, watching the festivities and thinking about the good memories of Derby pasts.  My Granny lived within blocks of Churchill Downs, so most Derby days I spent at her house sitting on the back porch listening to the races being called...and enjoying her cooking!

This year, I have started a new tradition with a sweet friend from church, Martha.  Martha has known me since before I was born and was a good friend of my Mom.  It's like having a piece of my Mom still here.  Each month on the first Saturday, we have a lunch date.  We lamented how we needed to get together last year and after our planned lunch on the first Saturday in January, we decided to make it official.  I couldn't have been more excited to have one of our dates fall on Derby Day.  

To celebrate, we went to a place in Shelbyville, Kentucky, called Science Hill Inn.  This was the home of a girls' preparatory school, opened in 1825, and has now been converted into a gallery and restaurant.  It was the perfect place to spend Derby Day with Martha enjoying their buffet.  Stepping into the restaurant was like walking on to the set of Gone With the Wind.  I expected to see Scarlett stroll down the steps in her hoop skirt and greet us.  We were seated by a window overlooking their gardens and the serving staff was simply lovely.  It was a great way to spend a day that brings back some sad memories.

The day got even better when a young teenage girl walked up to our table and said, "Would you mind if I prayed for you both? The Lord just laid on my heart that His Hand is upon you and urged me to come pray for you."  You could have knocked both of us out of our chair.  We, of course, agreed and it was a beautiful prayer of blessing.  After she left with her parents, our server told us that her family comes in a lot and are really great people.  Her Dad is a pastor of a church in a neighboring county and they have done of lot for the staff there.  Our server confirmed she was a high school student.  Wow.  

On days when I feel melancholy or wonder what God is up to in my life, it's moments like these that make me feel His embrace in a way I could never explain.  Wonderful memories with a sweet friend.  The unexpected blessing of the prayer of a stranger.  The sweet knowledge of knowing I'm safe in the arms of God.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Coloring Therapy

I confess.  I love to color. And I'm far from the age where coloring is a part of my daily life.  

When I was a child, I loved getting that box of 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener and a fresh coloring book to fill with all my crazy ideas for what everything should look like.  I took liberty in making hair and clothes look very different.  Because I could.

With all the stresses of life, I started coloring again about six months ago.  Now, i don't do it daily (so don't call the men in white coats to come get me), but I do often whip out the crayons and colored pencils and my stashed coloring books to decompress from life's pressures and stresses.

Today I don't need that built-in sharpener as my box of crayons are twistable and, like mechanical pencils, stay sharp all the time.  I even have a couple of boxes of twistable colored pencils, and one that is even erasable!  My how Crayola has advanced over the years.  

This picture was a masterpiece I created and decided to share it this week - Derby Week - when hot air balloons fill the sky.  I subscribe to Phone Case of the Month where I get a new phone case each month.  (Betcha didn't figure that one out!)  A couple of months ago this card was included and we were asked to design our phone case and tag them on Instagram for a chance to have our design accepted as a future monthly design.  I squealed!  And then grabbed my colored pencils and crayons to begin my work.  I am not a freehand artist (as evidenced in this picture), but you can't really mess up balloons.  I haven't heard if I've won yet, but I sure felt more refreshed when I finished!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Father Knows Best

This past weekend was the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival.  For those not familiar with the activities leading up to the greatest two minutes in sports, the city of Louisville begins the celebration two weeks before the big race.  It kicks off with a boom at Thunder Over Louisville.  The largest fireworks display in the country is displayed over the Ohio River with more than half a million people gathered at the river to watch.  

My friend, Ashley, found a wonderful way to enjoy this festivity - a Steamboat Dinner Cruise to watch the fireworks.  Like me, Ashley is an only child and introvert and the thought of commiserating with thousands of people isn't appealing.  This was the perfect way to view the fireworks.  We would board at 6pm and sail at 7pm with the fireworks at 9:30pm.  We were excited.  Until Wednesday prior to the event.  Due to the water levels from all the rain we've received, the steamboat couldn't make it to the port in Indiana, so the cruise was canceled.  We were quite bummed but moved on to Plan B.  

Plan B was to see the Cinderella feature film and dinner after.  Knowing my love of Cinderella, this was a wonderful Plan B in my book.  We did see the movie (which I adored!) and enjoyed some yummy food at Red Robin, back in time to watch the fireworks on TV.  

Do you ever ask God why He allows things to happen (or not happen) in your life?  I certainly do.  Things that occur and I think "what!?!" and sometimes later on I realize His Protective Hand on me or see the bigger reasons why something did or didn't happen.  When those times never come with an answer, that's when my faith must grow to trust God.  But, God does sometimes provide those answers to help me trust Him when He is silent in other situations.

I mentioned the cruise was canceled on Wednesday.  Thursday night when I came home from work I felt awful.  I thought it was allergies or maybe the start of a Spring cold.  But I felt tired, listless and began to feel feverish.  I took two Tylenol and couldn't wait to crawl into bed.  Especially when I took my temperature and it was 100.  I had a feeling I knew what was going on.  The heel of my right foot was tender to the touch and was red and warm.  I was getting cellulitis.  For those who do not know what that is, the simple answer is a bacterial infection of the skin.  Because my immune system is suppressed due to the medicines I'm on, I'm highly susceptible to this and have had it before.  It's very easily treated, but if you don't catch it quick enough, it can spread and require hospitalization.  I called the doctor the next morning, got in to see him, got antibiotics and felt like I'd dodged a hospital bullet.  Part of the recovery is not to overdo it and be on my foot too much and keep it propped up as much as possible.  I did and after my check up yesterday, I'm on the mend.  

All of these colliding events show me that Father knows best.  Though I was bummed I didn't get to see fireworks on the Ohio aboard a steamboat, God knew better that I didn't need to be up and on my foot that much.  He protected me.  Watching a movie in a theater was much less "activity" and allowed me to get the rest I needed.  Though every situation like this will not come with a lovely answer as to the "why," I am grateful that God gives me enough of these answers to keep trusting Him even in His Silence. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cooking for One

I truly enjoy cooking and baking.  But there are a few things about those enjoyments that keep it from being a regular occurance in my life.  I'm single, so cooking solo is difficult.  I end up with leftovers for days.  Days!  And although I enjoy good leftovers, day five of something that I've had for lunch and dinner makes me want to never cook that recipe again for a while. Then there is my work schedule, church involvement and school...along with some semblance of a social life and doing all of this while planning meals is futile.  Add to that making it healthy and I throw up my hands and end up eating cereal, peanut butter and crackers, or scrambled eggs.

My company began a wellness campaign last year.  We were invited to multiple webinars on maintaining wellness from eating healthy to getting enough rest.  Some were interesting and some were painful to sit through, but the end result was a bonus.  Everyone that attended a webinar was in a drawing for multiple prizes after the year ended.  I was in a drawing for an Apple Watch since I attended all six.  But, I didn't win the Apple Watch, but I did win something even better - a gift certificate to Plated

Plated is a subscription service where you can order "plates" each week that make two servings each.  Everything is sent in an insulated bag - all meat, fish, vegetables, seasonings - and all in the exact measurements you need.  You can have Plated choose your plates, or you can choose the recipes you would prefer.  They list the cooking difficulty and calories, plus what you'll need to have.  Most of the supplies you need are already in your pantry - salt, pepper, olive oil, canola oil, milk, eggs - and various pots and pans.  They even offer desserts for two if you'd like to add that to your weekly shipment.  

My first dish was Ginger Trout with snap peas and roasted sweet potatoes.  I was hooked!  I've never cooked fish at home and this turned out beautifully.  Plated even sent the parchment paper I cooked the trout in along with all the various aromatic seasonings to make it taste just right!  I was sent just enough snow peas and other seasonings.  Even the sesame oil came in it's pre-measured bottle.  When I cooked the dish, I plated both plates up and wrapped one up to put in the fridge I would warm up for a second dinner that week.  

I have to admit I'm in love.  Eating these meals has helped me eat a more balanced diet and the more healthy I eat, the less non-healthy food is a craving.  Most days I work past 6pm so getting home at 7 or later and knowing I have a meal to cook that could take 45 minutes wouldn't have thrilled me before, but knowing I can just pull out the items labeled for the dish and jump in makes it much easier.

If you are living solo, or even a couple that have no kids or are empty nesters and you you have an adventurous streak to try new things, I'd highly recommend Plated.  As I'm burning through my gift card, I'm monitoring my grocery budget and if I save money on groceries that equal the cost of Plated, I'm going to keep doing it.  Oh, and did I mention you can skip any week you want with no penalty?  Another plus!  Here is a way to join Plated and get $24 off your first box:  It can't hurt to try! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Five Memorable Movie Dresses

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of Pretty Woman.  Whew, I feel old.  But that movie never grows old for a lover of the fairy tale.  One of the things most memorable (aside from all the amazing quotes) were the dresses and outfits Julia Roberts' character wore.  That got my mind thinking.  What are some of the most memorable movie dresses for me?  You may have a list of your own, but for me, this is the list that comes to mind as the Top Five.

   5.  Gone With the Wind Curtain Dress - 
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Scarlett O'Hara wore many hoopy dresses during this civil war classic, but the one that is my favorite is known as the "curtain dress."  She made this dress from curtains at Tara and was a symbol of survival.  Aside from the velvety nature of it, I think it's quite stylish.  If Scarlett O'Hara was on Project Runway, she'd win.

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4.  Cinderella's Dress - Of course, being the Cinderella fanatic I am, this dress had to make the list.  This could be the only one (or one of a few) dresses created by a fairy godmother.  For those purists, you'll realize that the dress in the movie is really white, but in all promotions and other pictures of Cinderella, the dress is portrayed blue.  If you watch the movie when she looks at her reflection in the water, you'll see a blue hue to the dress.  And as she strolls with Prince Charming there are some blue tints there as well.  In any case, we all want to be Cinderella. 

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3. Maria's dress in Sound of Music - Maria came to the Von Trapp mansion in borrowed clothes from the convent.  But this dress she wore the night she and the Captain danced together for the first time.  His tractor was definitely cranked for Maria!  And I love this picture because it depicts her looking at him with that same adoration.  

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2.  Vivian's dress in Pretty Woman - There were lots of beautiful outfits in this movie - the little black dress she wore to the business dinner - the ensemble she wore to the polo match.  But this red dress was exquisite.  Edward was flying her to see the opera "Pirates of Penzance."  To add to this ensemble he surprised her with a beautiful necklace and earrings to wear for the occasion that he borrowed, worth thousands.  Simply gorgeous.  Vivian cried during the performance and stated afterwards, "I almost peed my pants!"  Girls dream of being swept off in a private jet to a glorious night with a doting gentleman.  

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1.  Betty's dress in White Christmas - As a fan of this movie, you may only focus on the dress Rosemary Clooney wore at the end that was all Christmasy, but when I think of this movie, THIS is the dress!  Bob (Bing Crosby) had captured her heart, but had not played his cards right (what man does, really?) and she decided to distance herself to protect her heart.  She was going back out on her to perform and forget all about the ache in her heart from Bob.  Betty is singing at a night club, the appropriate tune "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" when Bob shows up.  The last thing we want to see is a love we're trying to get over show up when we're trying to move on.  I felt every pang in Betty's heart!  But, like the classy performer, she continued on flawlessly.  You can                                                     watch the clip.
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I've included the front and the back picture of this dress because it just deserves the full view.  Seriously, this dress is perfect.  If I ever get married, having this dress in white would be amazing...if I had the body for it.  But, I really believe God is going to adorn me like this when I get my glorified body.  Really, this dress is stunning.  It is, by far, my most memorable movie dress.