Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: Contentment

In lieu of New Year's Resolutions, each year I pick a word that I focus on for that year.  This year the word has been Contentment.  My word in 2015 was Joy and Contentment was really a byproduct of focusing on the word Joy for an entire year.  Joy isn't found in circumstances, it's found in the strength I receive from the Lord.

If you ask most people, they will tell you they are ready for 2016 to be over.  The political chaos that ensued during this year's Presidential election was enough to make me want to hide under my bed.  In reflecting on my past year, I have to say that I truly did feel contentment even in the most "non" content circumstances.

For the first time this year, I was privileged to be on three launch teams for new books from Lifeway - Looking for Lovely, The Gospel of Mark, and Giddy Up, Eunice.  My participation in these teams has now garnered me the role of a Lifeway Women's Ambassador, which may just be the closest I'll get to being an Ambassador of any kind.  Aside, I always thought it would be the coolest thing to be a Disney Ambassador, but I digress.  Each of these books focused my perspective on the right things.  My devotional life and time spent with the Lord has greatly improved over the last two years and this was aided by my reading and studying with these books.  Contentment is easier for me when I'm clinging closer to the Lord.  Sounds cliche.  Sounds like that Sunday School answer.  I know, you are rolling your eyes.  But really, it's true.  You can't just conjure up contentment.

My dream came true this year of being a guest on a Podcast - What Should I Read Next.  You take a podcast about reading and have me as a guest to talk about it and I think I may have died and gone to Heaven!  I've become more and more obsessed with reading and even joined the online Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club that is led by the host of What Should I Read Next, Anne Bogel.  Reading is my happy place.  I find contentment curled up in my recliner reading and escaping from the world.  As of this post, about 24 hours before the end of 2016, I've read 32 books with a challenge of reading 25.  I'll be upping my goal for 2017 and hoping I blow it out the roof!

You may think with all this goodness, surely it was easy to be content.  But come September, circumstances changed.  The end of the month, my boss announced his resignation.  I'd worked with him for years, but only a couple as my boss.  The news was jarring and I knew would be life changing.  This all occurred during the last week of September, my birthday week.  I couldn't help but think back a year prior when I was celebrating my Golden Jubilee and life was grand.  Not so much this birthday.  His departure meant I would be inheriting more responsibility, which was challenging.

October brought a new boss, which I really do love, and lots of changes as we began to turn our division around.  The reality of all the things we should have been doing but weren't became abundantly clear and some things had to be torn down to be rebuilt.  It seemed daunting but I felt I was up for the task.

The beginning of November, the day after the election to be exact, my company suffered the largest workforce reduction in their history - 25%.  Our local office had 9 folks that were laid off, while headquarters had such a large number they did it as one large group.  Along with another Director in my office, we had to administer the layoffs.  I've been on both sides of that table before - being laid off and doing the deed - neither side is pleasant.  Not only had we just adjusted to a new leader and many changes, we were about to really see life change.

Since that time, I've absorbed the duties of a complete employee.  I knew about 50% of what he did, and how to do about 30% of his job.  I've spent the last two months figuring his job out.  I'm getting there, but really feel like a CIA agent uncovering what has to be done and how to do it.  I also lost an employee that resigned in December.  It was hard to see her go as I don't have a lot of turnover on my team voluntarily, but one of our competitors recruited her.  Now we're in process of hiring a replacement.

The last three months of this year proved to be a real challenge to my contentment.  I lost sleep, worked long hours, constantly dreamed about work, but yet, I can say, I'm content.  There is a reason why I'm here.  I recalled when my company was first acquired and I begged and cried out to God "why didn't you take me out of this company?"  Five years later, I see His Hand on why I'm there, even in all the turmoil we're in right now.  Learning comes in the struggles.  If life was a bowl of cherries, we'd never know the need for God, or contentment.  If life was perfect, contentment wouldn't even be something we strive to achieve.  

I've seen God's Hand even in the last 3 months to encourage me that He's at work.  Our company had a holiday shutdown starting December 22 and it may have been the greatest thing to happen to us in years.  We all needed a mental break.  We needed physical rest.  But what I know now and hope I remember long into 2017 and beyond, is that my circumstances don't define my contentment.  If God is near (and, newsflash, He is), then I am content.  

With 2017 approaching, I'm looking forward to the new year, like I look forward to a fresh clean notebook ready for thoughts to be penned.  I'm pretty confident in my 2017 word, but I'll reveal that in the new year.  It's making me excited already to think about what focusing on a new word will bring in 2017!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Favorite Books of 2016

As another year comes to a close (good grief, Charlie Brown!), I become reflective, as the title of this blog indicates I do oft times.  I set a goal at the beginning of the year to read 20 books.  I am now at 31 and may read a few more before the year is through, so I feel rather accomplished!

This year reading has become my therapy and way to decompress from that which is life.  I've clung to it more now than ever before and it brings back memories of summer vacation spent in the aisles of my local library checking out books to fall into during the summer, and clutching my Weekly Reader paperwork to make sure I didn't lose it before turning it in.  My reading has brought me back to my roots, and for that, I feel really, really good.

I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorite books of this no particular order....

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - This was gifted to me and it sat on my bookshelf much longer than I'd liked, but I knew diving into it would be a challenge.  It was, yet rewarding at the same time.  The story of Louis Zamperini as an Olympian and POW survivor from World War II was redeeming and torturous.  I had to take breaks from reading as the POW scenes were hard to take, reminding me of the sacrifices so many made for my freedoms.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - A controversial book turned movie, I really did enjoy reading this book.  Do I agree with the outcome of the characters and all that took place?  Absolutely not.  But it was heart-wrenching and thought-provoking all at the same time.  I read the sequel, After You, which made me like the original more.  

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend - This was my first book after joining Book of the Month Club and I have a theory that your "firsts" dictate your thoughts of those experiences forevermore.  The fictional memoir of Frances Conway, who was a real-life person, kept me intrigued and engaged throughout the whole book.  I didn't want it to end and I wanted to have a conversation with Frances, though I'm sure she has passed by now.  

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - Written in the 1930s inspiring an Alfred Hitchcock movie, I stumbled unknowingly on this treasure.  I was searching for a classic romance as a book prompt from a reading challenge and oddly this book popped up.  I'm oh so glad I did!  This book is haunting, hard-to-put-down goodness that is probably best read in the winter, in a cabin, wrapped up in a blanket with endless amounts of coffee.  I'll definitely re-read this one again.

Hope Heals by Katherine and Jay Wolf -  I had to pick one non-fiction in the bunch and this one is it.  Katherine Wolf suffered a stroke in her 20s and this is the story of her life when that happened, her journey through recovery and rehab, and her life now.  Told in exchanging voice between her and her husband, Jay, you hear events from both of their perspectives and their transparency is refreshing.  I love a book that increases my faith in God and this one is a definite read if you are facing insurmountable struggles in your life.

There are many other books I could mention, but these are the five that stick out the most.  For 2017, I'll have to increase my reading goal!  And I may kick off the year re-reading a classic from my childhood that is what I think of when I think about reading, life and the gift I was given in a Mom who fostered that in me - Charlotte's Web.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Good vs. Faithful

The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least.  With the election results and a 25% layoff of my company, it's been a horrible blur and fog in my world.  Thankfully I was spared and still have my job, though many, many others do not.  And they lost that job the day after the election.

My woes of life aren't comparable to others who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses or other struggles of life in a broken world.  Yet to each of us, our world can seem hopeless no matter the gradation of our problems.

I've been thinking a lot about how Christians will say "God has been so faithful" when they get word I've kept my job, or someone's illness is cured, or whatever problem previously happening vanishes.  Somehow, though I know that is true, I don't feel it completely accurate.  Yes, God is faithful.  He was, is, and will be.  No matter the outcome.  God would have still been faithful if I lost my job.  I prefer to say God is so good to protect me from losing my job.

One of my pet peeves is how many single women praise the Lord from the mountaintop as long as they have a significant other in their life.  Then, the moment that status changes, "Woe is me" is the lamentation.  It's as if God fell off His Throne.  Yet, God remains faithful even when we - heaven forbid! - are single.  God is good to us to give us the blessings we have far beyond what we deserve.

A few years ago, I had a women's ministry college intern, Jessica.  I loved her heart for the Lord and she shared a story with me from her home church that has stuck with me all these years.  A sweet lady at her church was celebrating her husband's soon-to-come retirement and how they planned to have a cabin in Gatlinburg where they could minister to others.  Three months after his retirement, he died suddenly of a heart attack.  When Jessica talked with this sweet, godly lady about how she could go on, knowing that her husband's life was ended just as they were about to start a new chapter serving the Lord, she said, "You know what, Jessica.  God is always right."  I love that.  No matter what happens, God is always right.  

In this season of Thanksgiving, we focus on that which we are grateful.  I want my gratitude to be overflowing for the One that is good, faithful...and right.  Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chipotle vs. Qdoba

From the moment Qdoba made its debut in my town, I've been a believer.  It was my go-to place and I would crave it periodically.  This past summer, their arch rival, Chipotle, did a summer promotion that one of my employees participated in to earn us free catering at the office.  In an effort to help him achieve the bazillion burritos he needed to eat over the course of three months, some of us helped by using his rewards card and visiting Chipotle.

Although I felt like a traitor walking into the restaurant, I have to say I really liked their food.  This caused me to ponder about my newfound love of Chipotle and my obvious betrayal of Qdoba.  Why did I like one more than the other?  And if I could do a pros and cons, who would win?

Chipotle's pros are fresh ingredients.  I honestly "feel" better after eating Chipotle and not so blech as I do often with Qdoba.  The food is cheaper at Chipotle (at least what I get) than for the same thing at Qdoba.  And Chipotle has Coke Zero, so that's a win.

On the con side, Chipotle's chips are stored in a bag pre-scooped.  Ick.  They just don't maintain that same freshness as the chips freshly scooped at Qdoba.  The atmosphere at Chipotle leaves something to be desired.  I definitely don't find dining in there pleasing at all.  It's like a warehouse break room or a take off on a steam punk casual dining establishment.  To go orders are my preference at Chipotle.

Qdoba, being my first love, has a lot more variety on their queso, which is sorely missing at Chipotle.  They have Coke Zero and 100 other options with their Coke Freestyle machine, which is a positive.  Qdoba's chips are fresh and often even warm making everything yummier when scooped up with a warm tortilla chip.  And dining in there is a much more pleasant experience than at Chipotle.  

The cons for Qdoba are their prices - slightly higher - and the food - not counting the chips - isn't as fresh.  Overall, though they are reinventing themselves regularly with new offerings so they do move further away from a direct competitor - or a mirrored competitor with Chipotle.

The jury is still out.  I like them both for different reasons.  I suppose I need to create a Qupotle restaurant and everyone is happy.  

Monday, October 31, 2016


Photo Cred: What Should I Read Next?
Back in August, I had the privilege of being a guest on What Should I Read Next podcast.  It was like a dream come true!  I've always wanted to have my own radio show, and in the 21st century, being a guest on a podcast is the next best thing.

Think of my excitement when I was approached to be one of the folks on a follow-up episode about What DID I Read Next?  Clips from my original episode were included and then I shared what I had read next and what was still on my list.

Anne Bogel, the host of this podcast, did an excellent job of picking titles for me and though I've only read one so far, I loved it.  Two more are on my list from Anne, but the reader response was overwhelming.  Literally hundreds of suggestions came through comments from readers on Anne's blog and Instagram.  I'm set for life for books to read, as if I wasn't already.  

If you haven't listened to the original episode, you can do so here.  And then you can list to the follow-up here.  Happy listening...and reading!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Designated Survivor

I don't watch a ton of TV and most of the time my TV is on to make noise while I'm piddling and working around the house or getting ready in the morning. But, I do try and watch one or two new shows each season to see if they're worthy of following.  One of those this season is Designated Survivor.  It stars Kiefer Sutherland (pardon me while I swoon) and, no, it isn't just a remake of 24.

Kiefer Sutherland is the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and is chosen as the designated survivor to be sequestered during the State of the Union address in the unlikely event a tragedy occurs and the government leadership is wiped out.  The show's Pilot involves a bombing at the Capitol and the need for Kiefer to be sworn in as President of the United States.

I'm only two episodes in, but the story is riveting, and quite ironic in its applicability to today's presidential landscape.  Kiefer's character assumes a role he really isn't prepared for, but serves out in the best way possible.  His humility in this role as his life changes in a blink of an eye is commendable.  I get this is fiction, but it sure is refreshing.  

It's an understatement to say I'm beyond disappointed in this year's presidential election.  Neither candidate is someone I want running the free world.  I was quickly reminded of this when in the first 30 minutes of the Designated Survivor becoming POTUS, he was given the instructions on how to launch all nuclear weapons operated by the US.  Frightening.

I try and avoid political debates on social media.  That's why I'm writing this blog.  I can't handle the constant bickering in my social feeds.  It's exhausting.  So I'm keeping my most passionate comments here.

When I fill in the bubble to vote for our next president, I can't, with good conscience vote for either of the two leading candidates.  I can't. Don't try and persuade me, it won't change.  Hilary's complete disregard of human life - her pro-choice stand and her Benghazi behavior - doesn't give me comfort.  Yes, it would be tremendous to have a female president, but is she the role model I want?  Absolutely not.  You continue to tolerate your husband's fornication all for the sake of maybe becoming President yourself.  Have you no more regard for yourself than that?  It's sad...and troubling.  

Trump is a whole other issue.  Take away his recent "locker-room talk" scandal and other female encounters that have come about, he turns my stomach.  His narcissistic, prideful attitude is not appropriate for the Oval Office.  I'm a conservative Christian and many stand behind him because of his potential Supreme Court Justice appointment.  I have zero faith in his keeping that promise since I've not really seen any consistency in his campaign...other than narcissistic pride.  I didn't vote for Obama, so take this statement from that perspective.  Obama has more class in his pinkie finger than Trump has in his whole body.  

In some ways, I wish we could designate a President somehow, but that would only come if neither major party gets the majority and it goes to Congress.  It's times like these I miss my Dad so much.  I'd love to hear this take on this.  But, if I could talk to him now, he'd say, "I'm sure glad I'm not on earth anymore for a lot of reasons you don't understand yet, but this election is another reason."  

I'm not sure who'll I'll vote for come November 8, but I will vote.  It won't be Trump or Clinton, but someone else with a chance, albeit slight.  I'm voting because I have that right.  The right as a woman I've only had a short time in light of history and the right many people fought for my freedom to have.  I'm not going to "pull the lever" for someone who I can't respect.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Breaking Out

This week has been one for the record books.  As Dickens once said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  The worst times occurred on Monday when I got news my boss was leaving.  I've had tons of bosses in my lifetime.  Some were great, some were not.  But this one was great, so personally I'm super sad.  Professionally, as they say on Broadway, the show must go on.  With that news, the week brought its own stressors, and the jockeying for position when this sort of thing happens - which has happened many times in my work life.  To add to the week, Thursday was the anniversary of my Mom's death.  Sixteen years ago I lost the woman who waited 18 long years for me, loved me, nurtured me and was my best friend.  I could have used an hour or 100 with her this week.

The best of times occurred because I turned another year older and felt the love from many friends far and wide.  Last year was my golden jubilee, so this was just a normal birthday year, but that little blip of love in the middle of the week was so needed.  Also in the midst of the worst was a great time on Thursday with my entire office enjoying some time away playing a competitive game of escape room.

If you haven't heard of this new gaming phenomenon, you go to a location and a team of people (up to 8) are locked in a room with a backstory.  Based on clues they have in the room, they have 1 hour to "break out."  Our office broke down into 3 teams participating in a Casino Royale, Museum Heist, and Island Escape.  My team did Island Escape.  If you like solving puzzles, cryptic riddles and mysteries, this game is for you.

The game starts with a short video and then once the timer starts you begin searching the room for clues.  There are multiple things locked with combination locks - both number and letter - and key locks.  Getting access to all of those is vital to getting out of the room.  To explain how we did it is way too complex.  I envy those that write these games because the detail is amazing.  We had exploding volcanoes with clues, maps that dropped things out, constellations on the wall, a black light flashlight, and special glasses to read computer screens.  It was a blast!

Our team broke out!  And did it in 53 minutes.  Sadly, the other two teams didn't break out, so at the hour mark, they were released.  I'm ready to take on the challenge of the other rooms and be able to say I broke out of all of them.  

In the midst of good and bad times, I'm grateful for things like escaping locked rooms to distract me from the harsh realities of life.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Gospel According to Traffic Court

Back in June of this year, I was given a ticket for not changing lanes while traveling next to a police car pulled off the road citing another vehicle.  As traumatizing as that was, I had no idea how the fun would continue when I went to traffic court.

My court date was last month, and I'd never been to traffic court, much less to the courthouse downtown, which we affectionately call here in the Ville, "Sixth and Jefferson."  I traveled downtown for my 1pm assigned court date in the extreme heat.  I circled until I found a place to park - the main reason I loathe downtown - horrible parking.  I headed on into the courthouse.  Clearly you could have videoed the people of WalMart or the latest reality show (aptly named "Sixth and Jefferson") given the sights I saw.  Every type of person wearing any type of clothing (or very little clothing) was hanging around the lobby and right outside the door.  

I entered the building and quickly went through security.  I felt like I was dealing with TSA, but without all the hassles.  I've watched enough cop shows to be alert to my surroundings lest some psychopath pull out a weapon and start going crazy.  I checked in at the front desk, interrupting the receptionist from reading her novel.  Aside, good to know my tax dollars pay for someone to read 8 hours a day. She instructed me which courtroom and I navigated the directions to get to the 3rd floor and my specific courtroom.  

When I walked in, I felt like I was on Perry Mason.  The court room looked just like they do on TV, albeit smaller.  I sat in the courtroom pews and waited for my name to be called.  They aren't really pews, but honestly look just like them.  And, quite frankly, I prayed as much sitting in those pews as I do in a church pew.  The first stop on this journey is to talk to a lawyer or "important man in a suit" that is sitting at the desks in front of the judge's bench.  This is the first level of Dante's Hell you have to get through before facing the judge.  My name was called and I went up and he reviewed my ticket.  The first words out of his mouth were, "Well, I'm not sure what to do with you."  Huh?

You never want to hear that in a courtroom, doctor's office or operating room.  He continued by saying that the way the police officer wrote up the ticket, his only option was to suspend my license for six months.  I almost lost it.  "Are you kidding me?" was my response.  He patted himself down trying to find his phone, which wasn't on his person and asked if he could use mine.  Really, at th is point I started to think I was being punk'd.  

He tried calling the Department of Transportation to ask them what to do.  Of course, that was after I looked up the number and called it for him, hoping my gracious groveling would help me out here.  When he couldn't reach anyone, he said, "I can reschedule a new court date, or if you can wait, I can talk to my higher ups to see what options I have."  I told him I'd be happy to wait since I was already missing work to get this handled.  

I sat there for what seemed like an eternity waiting.  I texted some friends and asked them to pray.  What would I do if my license was suspended?  I have to first get home, then how do I get from place to place for the next six months.  Needless to say, I was a mess.  I prayed and I waited.  When the important-man-in-a-suit came back, he said he could lower the charge to careless driving (what in the world was it before!?) and I could pay the fine and court fees.  I wouldn't be eligible for traffic school.  I quickly said yes and thank you.

Then back to the pews to wait until the judge called me up.  By the time that happened, I was half a basket case on the inside and half relieved that this was almost over.  She repeated the violation as amended and asked if I plead guilty or not guilty.  I paused and said, "Well, the police officer said I was guilty."  She said, "You don't have to plead guilty.  You can plead not guilty and then we'll go to trial."  At that point, Miss Resilient Steel Magnolia here, broke a bit.  I told her I'd never been in court in my life and I just wanted this over.  I didn't weep or sob, but she, as a woman, could tell I was about to break down.  She was very nice and explained how I would go about paying my ticket by phone to avoid another trip down to the court house.  

I left there completely exhausted, mentally and physically.  I went home, called in and paid my ticket and hope it goes away.  But I learned a few lessons in the process....

Being in that court room facing the judge because of my violation was humbling and scary all at the same time.  I clearly broke a law, though I didn't think my violation required quite that high of a penalty.  All I could think of when I left that day is how grateful I am for the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  You see, I'm a sinner.  I sin every day, multiple times a day.  And I deserve punishment.  A violation worse than what I received from that police officer.  But Jesus took on that punishment for me.  He, being sinless, gave His life, so I wouldn't have to live eternally separated from God.  The visual I kept seeing was me walking up to the podium before the judge, being condemned, and Jesus coming up, hugging me and gently moving me away and stepping in my place.  Wow.  That's love.  

Conviction came on me that day of my prideful heart, not just about that traffic violation but all the ways I sin daily.  And yet, Jesus' righteousness covers me.  I could never repay the debt I owe, unlike my ability to pay for this ticket and move on.  May I be forever thankful for the love of Christ who always steps into my place to save and protect me.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

My 48 Minutes of Fame

I'm obsessed with reading.  It's a passion that has returned after losing the passion during college and going back for my MBA years later.  I've also carried a long lost dream to have my own radio talk show.  As a youngster, I would use my Dad's recording equipment and make up stories and record myself as if I was on the radio.  I even included commercial breaks by saying, "Thanks for the interruption."  

Marrying my obsession with a dream became a reality when I was the guest on the What Should I Read Next podcast hosted by Anne Bogel.  I decided to submit a request to be on the show and see if I was a fit and I was!  I couldn't have been more ecstatic.  My episode aired on August 9 and I've felt like a star ever since.

Along with Anne's recommendations (which you'll hear when you listen to the episode), I've received oodles of suggestions from the podcast blog post and gotten tons of requests to connect with listeners on GoodReads.  I feel famous!  All because of my 48 minutes of fame.  

If you are a reader, or even if you're not, be sure to have a listen.  One item checked off my bucket list.  Now to really get that radio show....

Monday, August 01, 2016

Picnics, Podcasts and Pokemon Go

Yesterday, our church had a "Dinner on the Grounds" as part of our 100-year celebration.  For those non-Baptists, or people under the age of 30, a "dinner on the grounds" is really a picnic where the church provides the fried chicken (or some other meaty entree) and the church members bring sides.  Our organized picnic assigned salads, sides and desserts by last name so we'd have a more even distribution and not end up eating nothing but chips and dessert with our fried chicken.  And everyone was tasked with bringing a 2-liter, so the drinks were plentiful.  It was hot.  Maybe if you were under a tree somewhere it wasn't, but if you were out long, you couldn't miss the heat.  I was privileged to serve the chicken in one of the serving lines and found myself sweating so much I thought my eyes were watering.  A good time was had by all, and the food was plentiful.  I did learn that KFC-provided serving tongs are not very sturdy.  I broke two in a matter of an hour.  

This morning, I was interviewed by Anne Bogel for her podcast, What Should I Read Next.  I was so excited about this opportunity and consider an item on my bucket list checked off.  I've listened to her podcast for a while and it adds fuel to my already obsessive love of reading.  Though it might sound stalkish, I would love to discuss books with her regularly.  The one thing I realized from the podcast (which I'll link on my blog when it's live), is what I thought would be the theme of the books I love was way off from reality.  I won't give away the content of the podcast, but after analyzing I came to realize and had confirmation that I love historical fiction (what!?!) and stories with a female protagonist (not as surprising).  I left wanting to spend the next three days in a bookstore.  

Pokemon Go is the newest craze in the world these days.  I'll admit I've played the game and it is kind of fun, though I'm out of Poke Balls to continue play right now.  Being in technology, this take on augmented reality will forever shift the paradigm.  Now, everyone "gets" augmented reality and businesses can reach consumers with that technology, maybe easier than they could have before Pokemon Go.  To let you know how much it has infiltrated the world, I was driving down a main road the other night and a local church had on their sign "We're a PokeStop, so feel free to stop by."  I give them credit for creativity and engaging the culture.    

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Gospel According to Zootopia

I recently saw Zootopia and absolutely loved it!  I loved it so much that the Shakira song, "Try Everything" is now my ringtone.  The movie has gotten a lot of flack because of the supposed underlying message of the liberal bent in our country.  Ok, I'm about as conservative as they come, but people, please.  Can we not look at every movie for some political agenda that will warp our children and turn them into raging entitlelists?  Granted, Hollywood is saturated with left-wing thinking, but I prefer to look at movies - especially animated ones - through the eyes of the gospel.  Our country is divided enough these days.

The story begins with Judy Hopps, a vivacious, energetic bunny with big dreams, wanting to leave the comfort of her family's carrot farm to pursue a life as a law enforcement officer in the land of Zootopia.  Zootopia is that big city for animals - the Los Angeles or New York City for creatures - where dreams come true.  Although her parents hate to see her go (even though they have a passel of her siblings still remaining), she heads to Zootopia and does indeed become a law enforcement officer.  I'll save ruining the plot, but Judy comes into her own through a complex situation between Mayor Lionheart and his assistant mayor Bellwether, a lamb.  

In a world where chaos seems to be happening all around us, this little flick truly waves the flag of "All Lives Matter."  From Judy Hopps to the Mayoral Lion, everyone was important.  Nobody cared if Judy was a tiny rabbit, she was a great policewoman!  And her life had a plan.  There may be no better verse in Scripture that screams "All Lives Matter" than John 3:16..."For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that WHOSOEVER (emphasis mine) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."  God loved ALL lives so much, He gave His only Son for us.  

I applaud Disney on many fronts.  Yes, they are a secular company so they aren't weaving Christian themes in every movie, but they are hitting home runs with their recent movie messaging.  Inside Out...a child struggles with a major move and life change and we see her real emotions, realizing that Joy and Sadness go hand in hand.  Finding Dory....a fish with a short-term memory can still make a difference, displaying that a child with special needs is still very valuable.  And, now Zootopia, where a small bunny never gives up on her dream and makes a big difference in the world of Zootopia, meaning every life matters. 

In this movie, all animals co-habitate with each other, even those that would normally eat each other in the real world.  One day we will live in a new world where the lion will lay down with the lamb, and it will not only be Zootopia, but it will be Paradise, with Jesus in complete control as we live in this New Earth.  Until then, let's all remember all lives matter....because they matter to God.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

A World With No Color

The news in the last week has been disheartening and sad.  It doesn't matter who you are or the color of your skin, if you've watched the deaths at the hands of law enforcement and the deaths of those retaliating those actions continuing to split the country by color, you should feel sad.  

I have best friends that are black, and I have friends who are police officers.  I love them both.  I don't agree with the actions we've seen in the past week and feel like I want to just live in a world without color.  But how boring would this world be without color?  Yet, if we were all green, then maybe all of this would stop, and the issues at the heart of this would be addressed.  We're sinful people living in a fallen world.  We all need a Savior.

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time with my church family, and as I reflected on the activities I did, I was reminded how "colorless" my world is, or rather, how I don't "see" color.  Saturday morning I celebrated with a woman at our church about to become a Mom for the first time.  This precious little girl is being born to a sweet couple that will raise her to love the Lord and to not see color.  I left that baby shower and headed to a "farewell" gathering for one of my great friends who is heading westward to take on his dream of teaching at the college level.  It just so happens, that great friend is black.  I don't see him as black.  We all hugged him and will miss seeing him regularly, and see him as family, not black.  Both black and white will miss him terribly and thanks to technology can keep up with him much easier.

Last night, our church family had a building community night, which means to us, fun times after the evening service.  We had organized kickball games between teams of young 'uns and old folks, a bluegrass band, and Steel City Pops which seem to be life altering, but I'd say it takes two for that change to occur.  Our church is blessed to have many members of law enforcement as part of our family, and our congregation - black and white - love and respect them.  I couldn't help but look around at all the colors I saw, too.  Families who've adopted children from Africa and Ethiopia.  A church family full of all sorts of "color" of people and, again, I didn't see color.  I did see the cutest little bluegrass dancers and Popsicle eaters around.  By the end of the evening, I'd almost forgotten the way the rest of the world operates.  

If you're like me, you're sick of all the hate, violence and division you see in this country.  I've decided that we need to adopt a new song that this country needs to sing...and the lyrics go something like this....

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.  

Jesus doesn't see color.  Nor should we.  

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A Round Tuit

My Dad used to carry around a wooden disc with the word TUIT painted on the face of this pseudo coin.  I could always find one in his suit coat pocket when I went digging for a peppermint.  Or on the top of the dresser when he emptied his pants pockets out.  Someone along his work journey gave him this disc to remind him that you needed to get a round tuit.  Or removing the phonetics, "get around to it."  My Dad was the ultimate in Dad humor so he ate this up.

He'd make conversations at gatherings by throwing the coin on a table and asking the person if they knew what it was.  This was a puzzle that could go on for hours and he found it comical to finally have to explain it if they gave up.  I miss his Dad humor.

On Sunday, my friends and I went to Zeggz for lunch/brunch after church.  A quick aside - this restaurant is apparently a competitor for a local favorite, Wild Eggs.  After my first experience, there is no comparison.  Wild Eggs is clearly better, starting with the fact that you have to order off a wall at Zeggz.  (I'll save "ordering off a wall" rant for a future blog post)

As we were eating, I saw a man come in the door that quickly reminded me of my Dad.  His salty gray hair was slicked back, and he was in a suit that was snappy and a bit progressive for a man who looked to be in his 80s.  My Dad had gray hair with touches of his jet black still visible and wore it slicked back.  He also could pull off a stylish suit coat like a champion, wearing pink, yellow and green ones on occasion.

It was a bit surreal, even though this man didn't look a ton like my Dad, there were things about him that reminded me of him.  That's happened a few times and a flood of memories come back, and I miss him so all over again.

While we were finishing our meal, he came over to our table and said, "Now this table looks like a fun group of people" and he gave each of us a yellow Round Tuit.  He and his wife smiled and walked out of the restaurant.  That was about the coolest thing I've had happen in a long time.  I'm now keeping my Round Tuit in my car console so that every time I get in, I think of my Dad.   

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Traffic Violation

I've had my driver's license for 33 years and haven't read a driver's manual in about 34 years.  You may be far removed from studying for those tests as well, so let's have a pop quiz, shall we?:

If you are driving down the highway and see a policeman who has pulled someone over on the right, off the highway, and you are traveling in the right lane, are you required to merge to the next lane over?

I'll give you time to think on that.

Yes you say?  Bravo because you are right and kudos for you knowing that.  I would have answered no, and not only am I wrong, but I now have a traffic date in court.  

While I was traveling home the other night, I was almost to my exit that takes me home when I saw the above mentioned scene ahead of me.  I looked to see if the right lane was blocked or obstructed, and it wasn't.  Since my exit was just past this scene, I didn't want to get over unless absolutely necessary.  It was about 9pm and the sun was setting in my rearview mirror causing some glare.  As I approached this scene, I saw the cop on the side of the road throwing his arm to the left like he had a charlie horse in his elbow.  I took that to mean "get over" though I didn't get it, but I checked the ability to merge left, and then did.  Shortly after, I merged back to the right lane since I was about to exit.  And that's when my night went south.

I see his flashing lights behind me.  I first thought, "Did I swerve?  Do I have a tail light out?"  Seriously, I had no idea why I was getting pulled over.  It crossed my mind I didn't merge left fast enough so I expected a stern talking to and a pass on a citation.  Au contraire, mon frer.  Not the case.

He came to my window and asked for my driver's license, insurance card and registration.  Praise Jesus I had all those things and knew where to find them!  He was gone for a while, apparently making sure I wasn't on the lam from some high stakes murder ring.  The police officer returned, handed all my paperwork and IDs and said, "Here is your court date."  I asked, "Officer, can you explain the offense?"  He said, "Sure, you didn't observe right of way for an emergency vehicle.  Did you see me motioning you to get over into the next lane??  Did you see my flashing arrow?"  I said, "I didn't see a flashing arrow..." Interrupting the officer said, "Well it was flashing."  I continued, " I saw you motioning and I got over as soon as I could."  Mr. Policeman said, "No you didn't.  You didn't get over."  I replied as calmly as possible, "I did get over.  But I got back in the right lane because this is my exit."  He replied, "Ok, so you got over, but it was past me."  And he walked off.  

It took all the grace of God to keep me from going off.  I'm a pretty level-headed, calm person, but I was furious.  Not only did I not know this was a violation, this citation was court only.  No pre-payment to avoid court, or traffic school as an option.  Given it was June 28, I can only think my citation was to help meet his monthly quota.  

I plan to plead at my court date that I had no idea of this law - friends have told me it's fairly new - and that unless those types of laws are communicated, I can't abide by them.  If we are supposed to get over in the next lane, put a barricade in the right lane and there will be no question.  I know ignorance doesn't stand up in a court of law, but maybe my southern charm will help.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Giddy Up, Eunice!

I'd never read a book authored by Sophie Hudson, even though I follow her on all the socials.  She seems like a fun, southern gal who loves the Lord, and who doesn't need more of that in your life?  A few months ago, she announced a new book being released in June and was recruiting for her launch team.  I was in the midst of my first two launch teams ever - Looking for Lovely, and The Gospel of Mark Bible study - and thought, "yeah, let's do this again!"  

Entering into this journey, I had no idea the topic of the book. With a name like "Giddy Up, Eunice" I assumed it was some sort of Toy Story spin-off where Woody and Buzz rescued Grandma Eunice from the jaws of a Lego crane.  But the sub-title, "Because women need each other" was intriguing and indicated it was more than a toy search and rescue thriller.  

Sophie takes three teams of women from Scripture - Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, and Lois and Eunice (there's Eunice!) - to show the biblical evidence of why women need women.  Each dynamic duo is used to show how God used each one for the other and how that applies to our lives today in our fast-paced, hashtag, social media world. #imexhausted  Now, if you pick up this book and expect an expositional retelling of each of their stories, it's not.  And, that's completely ok!  I believe there is a time for deep, Scriptural study and a time when we look at the biblical story, draw out the truths, and well, Giddy Up!  

As a woman who works at a high school with many young girls, Sophie adds her own spice of life experiences and how they apply to ministering to women.  The most endearing part of the book, to me though, are the stories of her Mom, her Mother-in-Law, Martha, and her Mamaw.  We visualize the legacy of her Mamaw as we tour her farm and Sophie retells her experiences.  Through her stories, we fall in love with those that have invested in Sophie's life and it causes the reader to begin to reflect on their own legacy and those that have played a part in the development.

My Mom passed away in September day after my 35th birthday. I really couldn't fathom losing one of my best friends so early in my life.  I remember sitting in her hospital room on my birthday thinking back on all that she taught me. How to trust God when you are married 18 years without conceiving to finally have your one and only child.  How to love a husband till death do you part.  How to stand for the truth even when it isn't popular.  How to live with a chronic illness and still go on.  How to walk gracefully through the valley of the shadow of death.  All that I was reflecting upon couldn't be absorbed in those moments.  But in the sixteen years following, I've reflected much.  She was and is my hero.

After my Mom passed, it hit me that I was blessed with a godly mother for 35 years, but oh so many more woman have not had that privilege.  In that moment, God ignited a passion in me to invest and disciple women.  The blessings I've experienced on that journey since my Mom's death are too numerous to recount in one blog post.  What I would give to have a few hours with my Mom to catch her up on the last sixteen years of my life and get her wise counsel on so many more things.  

During the time I began reading Eunice, my pastor's wife and I had met to discuss all things women's ministry and discussed our need to train others to invest in women.  That's what I call a God-incidence when His Plan pops up everywhere and all in a beautiful, syncopated symphony.  Giddy Up, Eunice, was a good kickstart to get me back on the horse (pun intended) and get serious about investing in women.  

The world is hurting.  In the last week we've had massacres, shootings and political ramblings and it all wears me down.  The world needs hope.  The world needs Jesus.  Women carry a huge burden of trying to fix everything, and in the midst of what is swirling around us today, we are frustrated and sometimes helpless we can do anything.  It's time to stop navel gazing and start looking outward to those women in our lives who need encouragement, who need a hug, and who need us to walk alongside them through life.  Giddy Up, Eunice will be just the book to light your fire and get you on the road to investing in other women.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Podcast Obsession, Red Lights and Green Lights

One of my latest obsessions is listening to podcasts.  You'd think the phenomenon that is podcasts is a bit outdated given it's really nothing more than streaming talk radio, but sometimes that which is old can be reborn.

I listened to the first and second season of Serial Podcast, which was most likely the podcast that made this whole thing cool again.  But what really got me hooked was the introduction of West Wing Weekly, a podcast that recapped each episode of this iconic show from Episode 1, Season 1.  I absolutely loved this television show, and the thought of reliving it with commentary from other folks who loved the show - and appeared on the show - was like a dream come true.  It was then I begun subscribing to oodles of podcasts.

It's hard to pick my favorite, so I'll mention a couple of my recent favorites.  "What Should I Read Next" is hosted by a local gal here in Louisville, Anne Bogel.  She has guests on the show from all walks of life - many are authors - and asks them three simple questions: 1.  What are your three favorite books?  2. What is a book you hate?  3. What would you change in your reading habits today?  From those answers, Anne suggests a couple of books for the guest to read that fit their demographic.  I find this podcast fascinating!  Not only do I garner more books for my "to-read" list (like I need to expand that monster), but I learn about how to discern my tastes and choose books myself that would fall into my sweet spot. 

My other new favorite is "The Popcast."  Oh my cow, I binged listened to this one day last week and was hooked!  Jamie Golden and Knox McCoy host this weekly show all about pop culture.  I'm so #teamjamie, but I love the banter between the two of them.  And, the fact that it is an hour-long broadcast, which is long for most podcasts, doesn't bother me a bit.  In fact, I wish it was longer.  In most every episode, they list a "red light" and "green light" each.  A red light is something they are super disappointed about and a green light is the ultimate thumbs up award from these pop culture gurus.  I think I want to adopt this in real life.  Since my blog is real life, I plan on periodically calling out my Red Light and Green Light for the week.  To kick it off, I'm going to start with this post.  And I'll start with my Red Light, because I'm positive and I prefer to get that negative nonsense over with and focus on the good.

Red Light:  The Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla-Gate.  Ok, I'm pretty much over the discussion of this incident.  In case you are living under a rock, last week, a three-year old slipped into the Gorilla habitat and a 400-pound gorilla drug him around until they took the gorilla down.  The little boy was fine, and the gorilla dead.  You've got people who are upset about killing the gorilla.  Really, people!?  I love animals as much as the next person, but in the creation of the world, a child trumps a gorilla.  Nobody knows what the gorilla could do and zoo spokespeople said these gorillas can crush a coconut with one hand, so the chance of that happening to the child was a possibility.  Yes it's sad a gorilla had to be taken down.  But move on.  People on the other side of the issue want the Mom to be punished somehow.  How could she let her child get away like that?  I'm not a Mom, but I know enough (and know enough Moms) to know that keeping your eye on your child every step and breath they take is close to impossible.  I believe she had multiple children with her, so that increases the odds that one second her head is turned, off a three-year-old goes.  I also know enough three-year-olds to know they are pretty doggone independent.  I'm an only child and my Mom took her eye off me for one second in a department store and I went hiding in the clothes.  So, back off the Mom.  She's been traumatized enough.   The zoo is taking a look at more secure barriers to the habitat.  But, let's move on people.  We have a presidential election that gets us riled up enough.

Green Light:  Kroger Click-List.  A few weeks ago the Kroger grocery chain introduced Click-List online ordering and pick-up at one of our local stores.  You go online under your Kroger Account (with all that Kroger Plus card goodness) and place your order.  You can see the weekly ad for the best sales, price compare, and even add coupons to your card for further savings.  You choose a pick-up time, and then you drive to the store to pick up your groceries.  I thought this sounded too good to be true.  But it wasn't.  Yes, Virginia, it was that heavenly.  I placed my first order (free for the first three trips, then $4.95 after) on a Friday night and scheduled a pickup for Monday after work.  The cool thing was I could edit and add to my order by midnight Sunday - which I did.  I pulled up to the marked location for ClickList customers and called the number posted to let them know I had arrived.  They came out, reviewed my list while another person loaded my groceries.  I paid my bill and then off I went.  In about 10 minutes.  There were a few things out of stock, but nothing drastic.  And they even provided a substitute for one out-of-stock item for free!  When I asked them how it was being received, the associate laughed and said "we haven't had an open slot yet."  Another location was added last week and more to be added soon.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Reading, Writing and Teaching

Lately, I've been ruminating on three things - reading, writing and teaching.  It sounds like the old schoolhouse rhyme, but it's not.  It's more my thought processes on these various activities that have me in a pondering mood.

Reading.  I've been a reader from way back.  My Mom taught me to be a veracious reader at a young age, and I spent my summers checking out as many books as I could and soaking them in like water to a sponge.  In my pre-teen years, I could read as many as five books at one time.  As I got into high school, reading became more for homework than pleasure, and my desire waned.  Then came college, which also included tons of hours reading about things I was studying, not escapes into other's stories.  In 2009, I joined a book club in hopes to regain my passion for reading and it worked.  Then I went back to school and there was barely enough time to read my book for club, aside from anything else.  I've been out of school since last summer and my reading passion has grown.  I can't get enough of it.  So far I've read 12 books this year, almost halfway to my year goal of 25.  Any time I have down time, my nose wants to be in a book.  

Writing.  Last month, I celebrated my eleventh year blogging.  Wow.  That's longer than any dating relationship I've ever had and longer than most of the jobs I've held.  I've been a fierce writer cranking out posts left and right, and then a not so fierce writer struggling to post an article.  I've kept a goal of at least two blogposts per month, so I feel accomplished.  This leads me to my real reason for ruminating on writing.  I'm back to the thought of whether I should write a book.  My friend, Paige, and I have no less than 4 or 5 ideas of books we'd like to author together, so once she gets her tenure, that is on.  But, as I've participated in a few book launch teams lately, the fire is back to write a book.  Most of the authors I'm helping launch started out as bloggers.  My mind reels on how to even begin.  I have lots of ideas, but no clear path to get there, and like Mr. Holland's Opus, life and other ministry takes priority.  Nonetheless, it is occupying my head space right now.  

Teaching.  Part of the motivation of getting my MBA was to have the ability to do some adjunct teaching someday.  Of late, this has also been taking up a lot of my head space.  I'm far from ready to begin the process of seeing what's out there, but to be ready, I need to have a CV prepared so if and when the right teaching position pops up I can apply.  I love my current job, but I've always wanted to do this on a part-time basis to see if I even like it.  Given the first two items - specifically writing - I can't do both.  Herein lies the conundrum.  

All my life I've always had bigger goals than I had time or resources, but I'm so Type A, it's hard to not act on some of these dreams.  At this posting, I'm contemplating doing what I did when I was praying about getting my MBA...I decided to take some steps and see if doors opened, and if they did, that was the way I would go.  My MBA decision was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I'm hoping the same outcome as I ponder these wonderful opportunities all around me. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Looking for Lovely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 01, 2016

Non-April Fool's Funny

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

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Gospel According to Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

It Only Happens to Me

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I'll Give That Five Stars

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

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

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

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

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

Launching a New Blog and Recapping the Oscars

Book Review:  Me Before You

Book Review:  The Secrets of Midwives