Saturday, July 31, 2010

Small Town Girls Look Out For Each Other

In the hope of keeping some anonymity, I will just say that I live in outside of Lexington, Kentucky.  This summer has required a daily commute to the University of Kentucky.  Because my town is small, and we all know each other, it is not uncommon to say to someone, "Hey! I saw you on the highway headed to/from Lexington the other day!"  This conversation will occur in one of three places-Walmart, Kroger, or church.  It is considered a snub if you see someone in one of these social clubs and do not say hi.  You learn at an early age to greet everyone, whether you know their name or not.  :)

So the other day my laptop gave out on me.  And I needed a new one.  Hence, Daddy and I went off to the Walmart looking to see what they had to offer.  Once we get there, I run into my friend Suzannah from church.  She tells me, "I saw you pulled over the other day on the highway and got worried about you."

(On Wednesday there had been a funeral.  Like all good southerners, you pull over to the side of the road to pay your respects, wheter you know them or not.  Seriously.  Even 18 wheelers will come to a complete stop-I've seen it happen multiple times.)

Apparently, she had missed the procession, and I wasn't back on the highway, so she just thought my car had broken down.  And what does one small town girl do for the other?  Turns her car around to go and check, of course.  Because that's how we are raised.

Doesn't it give you a nice sense of community to know that people can be thirty miles away and still look out for one another?  Suzannah's mama would be so proud.

Here, we still want to make our mamas proud.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sassy Sally

Somehow, it's fitting that this post is being written from AutoMate.

My car has seen fit to completely freak out on me over the last month.  Because I've not had enough going on.

Before I start my sob story, let me say I love my car.  Ever since I was tiny (like five), I told my family I was going to have a red convertible.  Fast forward twenty years later, and guess what I bought?  Yep, and her name is Sally.  'Cause she's a Mustang.  And over the last four years she's been exceedingly kind to me.  She never acted up, was always ready to go, and I was faithful about maintenance.  I'm assuming those were her child years. 

Now, she's acting like a rebellious teenager.

So right after Daddy had his stroke, I could hear something sound like it was dragging.  And because I am a southern girl, I asked Daddy what I needed to do.  (To quote Fred Jones, "value comes from being needed" and Daddy needed to know I needed guidance about my car.  Still.)  Dad thought it was the disc pads.  (Still don't know what those are.)  So in the month of June I truck on out to Automate and find out I need new brakes.  I pull out my debit card.

A week later I found out if you use too much force on the handle that raises and lowers the passenger seat, it will break off in your hand.  I got a new handle.  And pulled out my debit card.

Sally then lulled me into a false sense of security and then pulled the equivalent of a 1-2 punch this week.  There will be a separate post about Sunday, because Sunday was the day of six different catastrophes, all of varying sizes.  But Sally saved her big tantrums for this week.

So I go to the mall Sunday to get a new top for my group presentation.  It was such a gorgeous day so the top was down, the radio was up, and life good. I go into the mall, find some things, and mosey back to the car.  Put my stuff in the trunk, slide behind the wheel, put the keys in the ignition, and n-o-t-h-i-n-g.  My car wouldn't start.  So what do you do?

Call Daddy.  Even though he's 40 miles away.  And you're looking right at the Sears automotive store.  Then you call your awesome best friend and she and her dad come and give your battery a jump.  And you go to Sears and get them to come and test your battery.  Guess what?  I need a new battery.  I pulled out my debit card.

Tuesday, I get new tires.  Four of 'em.  I pulled out my debit card.

Wednesday, the plastic box in my trunk that holds my trunk started dangling.  I couldn't close my trunk for it.  Which is why it's Thursday.  The nice fella behind the counter popped the box back in place, but I asked him if there was a way to secure it so that it wouldn't pop out again.  Which is why I am in the waiting room at Automate.  Writing a blog post.  Hoping the teen years will soon pass.

Sally and myself when she wasn't so sassy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I've Learned, Summer 2010 Edition

*A while back, I went through a very challenging time.  After a couple of months, I sat down and reflected on what I had learned and the events had shaped character.  Given the last 41 days alone, I just needed to reflect.*

Hi Friends,
So Summer 2010 is drawing to a close.  And what a summer it's been.  This was the summer I was going to grow out my hair, get a tan, take off the extra weight, take some classes, get my classroom in order early and really enjoy myself.  And very little of that has been accomplished.

Yes, my hair is longer.  I am working on a decent farmer's tan.  I will have completed two more classes on the way to finishing my master's degree.  And all that feels good.  However, two five letter words got in the way of exercising and eating properly (though to be perfectly honest, I really want to send Ben & Jerry a thank you note for making some ice cream that has gotten me through some rough patches) and being the organization queen that my soul longs to be.

And there is a part of me that just wants to stop and reflect about what I have learned this summer.  So here goes...

On the academic side, I can mark the theoretical iambic pentameter of anything Shakespearean work you set in front of me.  When it comes to marking the actual stress patterns though, it gets ugly.  However, I feel much more confident about reading Shakespeare infront of people.  And while I still can't understand why people consider King Lear to be one of his greatest works, A Midsummer Night's Dream brings such a smile to my face.  That class also taught me a lot about working through things-three hours of homework every night while dealing with family issues was how I envisioned the summer.  But it's made me stronger.  And that's always a good thing.

My education class has been really helpful.  Not nearly as much homework (which was good because on any given day I had to run to the hospital, doctor, therapist, or pharmacy) and I knew I could apply the knowledge I received.  Plus, the people in it are fun.  In a summer that has not been filled with an overabundance of fun, to have a slight chuckle at anything has not been overlooked.

And then you get into the serious things... 

Don't take a moment for granted.  The day Daddy had his stroke was the most beautiful day ever.  That morning, I was making plans and would have never imagined the incident and ensuing chaos.  If you find yourself in the middle of something sweet, nice, or even boring, savor it. Life will turn on a dime, and you just don't know the things you'll miss.  I honestly can't recall the last time my dad drove me some place and it's silly, but it makes me crazy.  Now I'm the chauffeur.  There's a poem in a book (I forget which one) that talks about a normal day.  It talks about cherishing the normal day.  Previously, I'd always associated it with the loss of a loved one, but now it has new meaning.

If you have one good friend, don't take them for granted.  There were people who really went out of their way to call, text, facebook and email to check on our family.  And those kindnesses will always be remembered.

I can't ever recall a summer that has been this full of lessons.  And it's been busy.  There's always someplace I'm rushing to.  There's meals that need to be prepared.  Dishes that need to be washed.  And laundry.  And homework.  A lot of times I feel like a failure because in the midst of this busy-ness, I'm not always kind.  I know I have much to be grateful for, but don't often act like it.

However, I cling to fact that God is loving.  He is sovereign.  And He is working all the time, though I may not see it or feel it.  And I have to hold to the promise is Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for them that love God".  In these trying times, God is still there, He is not resting.   And even if I don't see it or feel feel it, God is working, doing good things.  The results may not be immediate, but they will be revealed in His time.

And that may be the most important lesson of all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dear UK

Dear UK,
I saw on the news tonight where you saw fit to replace all the Championship banners in Memorial Coliseum.  I'm just wondering what you're doing with the old ones.  I've got a couple of ideas.

First, you could display them at the airport.  It is my understanding that most of the SEC teams fly into the Commonwealth.  I'm all about some visual intimidation.  Put 'em up so they can see them first thing as they come into the bluegrass.  Also, it will give all of us something to talk about as we wait for our delayed flights.  We can talk about the Fabulous Five ('47-48), the Fiddlin' Five ('57-58), the Comeback Cats ('97-98), and the Great Wall & Friends ('09-10).  They would make fabulous conversation starters.

Secondly, you could display them at various interstate exits.  Same principle as above.  It's all about mental prowess for those teams who take a bus into Lexington.

Third, you could loan them to some memorabilia place.  Maybe a sports hall of fame or something.  I know there's a bunch of places off UK's campus that would love to have them, but they would get stolen in no time.  Which leads me to...

Fourth (and the option I hope you choose), you could just give them to me.  Yeah, I know it would make a lot of people mad, but I'm a big girl and can handle the anger.  And I have a couple of good places they could go.  They would make an incredible addition to my classroom.  You have no idea how good they would look on the classroom walls.  And then, there's the house.  I could hang them off both the back deck and front porch.  I promise to take good care of them and will bring them indoors if it rains.

I know y'all are incredibly busy.  Getting #1 recruiting classes is incredibly taxing.  I will understand if it takes some time to reply to my letter.  However, if you do decide to ship the the banners, please know I prefer the US Postal Service.  I'll be in touch.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Small Reminder

In this summer that has been oh so hectic, with a pace that has not let up for one moment, I did get a reminder the other day that God still cares.  It came in the most unexpected form.

Leaving my classroom and trekking to the Parent-Teacher Store, I get out of my car and notice something.  There, on my right shoulder is a butterfly.  In my 29 years, has that ever happened?  These kind of things only happen to other people in books.  Or Disney movies.  Am I right?

I just stood there, watching it for a moment.  It was almost as if God was telling me He knew I needed some encouragement.

And so I tried to coax it on my finger, thinking it would fly away.  This was one compliant butterfly, because it stayed right on my hand.  I just stood there and marveled at it a moment longer, then finally had to take it to the front door and leave it. 

Those five minutes just remind me that we do have a loving Father.  One who cares, when we are running errands, when we feel unnoticed.  He tells us in Isaiah:  "I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and will carry you." Isaiah 46:4

In this summer of constant motion, when all I want is a respite, it's so comforting to know the Lord is there.  And He understands.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rehab, Day 1

There are just some things a daughter just does not EVER want to witness. They are just plain terrible, and I'm looking for therapists as soon as I finish this post. (If you don't know me, please understand that last sentence was written in jest.)

For instance, Tuesday.

I escorted my father to outpatient rehab for the very first time. Since it was the very first time I thought my role would be filling out 15 minutes worth of paperwork, seeing him to the door, and leaving him there for two hours. (Because I've heard tell from numerous people, "I dropped so and so off at rehab today...") It's imperative you know my expectations-it explains why I had no make up, not even powder. So what I thought would be a 20 minute errand tops turned into an hour and 20 minute trip.  And looking like white trash is no longer "in", so I couldn't even pretend I was trying to be fashionable.

And it was not without cringe inducing moments.  Because we're dealing with my people.

The incredibly nice speech therapist wanted me to stay in and help Daddy answer questions.  Because there's two sides to every story.  But we survived the speech therapy session.

And then on to physical therapy.

Now you have to understand Daddy loves to talk. And loves to tell a big bear tale.  The bigger the tale, the better.  And for the people that know him, we know he's puttin' on, and just laugh.  But then you get these people who believe him. Every. Single. Word.

The two physical therapists (the one licensed one and the student one-bless both their hearts) asked him his goals for physical therapy.  I will give you his answer:

"I just want things to be the way they used to be.  Before all this, I was driving.  I was able to mow the lawn.  I used to do all the housework.  I used to do all the dishes.  I used to do all the cooking.  I used to do all the laundry." It was at this point the therapist interjects and wants to know about stairs.  We cover the fact that there are stairs at the house.  The therapists are concerned about him packing laundry baskets up and down the stairs.  (I'm worried about the therapists.)

And can I just say I had been shaking my head no to negate everything he was saying after the second sentence?  But do people listen to me?  No.  All I have to say is, yes, Daddy used to drive.  He used to mow the lawn.  Dishes?  On occasion.  Cooking.  He'd fix himself lunch and maybe fix us supper sometimes.  (Though to be fair, he does make chicken and dumplings that will make you slap yo' momma.) Laundry?  He'd wash towels once a week when he got bored.

But since SOME people believe every word that comes out of mouths, and they carry clipboards, it is documented that my daddy runs the household.  And he is desperately worried his wife is going to leave him if he can't resume his household chores.

It's recently come to my attention that Australia has a lot of people with my last name.  When he is well, I plan to move there.

G'day mates!  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Bites

Y'all come to the house and I'll hook you up with a fresh salad.  Got plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, zuchinnis, and squash.  See illustrations below. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cougar Bait

About two months ago I'm minding my own business reading in the living room and my parents are in the kitchen having a snack.  All of a sudden I hear (71 year old) Daddy ask Mama, "Brenda, what'd you say a 'cougar' was?"  And Mom explains that a cougar is an older woman after a younger man.  I hear Daddy start cackling.  "Well, I got an email.  It said there were 30 cougars waiting to meet me online." Mom and I are both snickering now.  "Brenda, how old do you reckon them women'd have to be? 90?"  And that's when we almost choked.

Fast forward to the day Daddy got out of the hospital.  He was chomping at the bit to look at his tomato plants in the yard.  Since he was still a little unsteady on his feet, he needed a cane.  We had not acquired one at this point, so what's a good Southern family to do?  Take a paint roller extender (minus the roller) and use it for a walking stick.  Yup, we did.  And because it's MY family, and MY father, it's not just a stick.  It's a cougar stick.  'Cause he needed something to keep the cougars off. 

And because I am the product of my father, I nicknamed him "Cougar Bait". 

Which we still call him-to his face.  'Cause we're respectful like that.

For my peace of mind, would you please not tell your grandma about him?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dear Keith Urban

Dear Keith Urban,

I am writing to you to inform you my thoughts about your dvd of your concert, "Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy World Tour Live".  I do apologize for the delay in writing this letter.  If I were to recount what all's happened since the release of the dvd, you would understand.  But then, you've had a child (or I guess your wife has), won some awards, and been on more tours, so I guess we're flush.

Anyway, back to task.  

I gotta tell you, as diplomatically as I can muster, I was disappointed with the dvd.  And here's why: I was there, dude.  And that dvd just does not do it justice. 

And quite frankly, the state of Kentucky does not like to share the limelight. So what is up with half of it being filmed in Lexington and half of it filmed in Atlanta?

And while the little girl giving you the roses was super cute and all, you left out the super talented girl who got up there and played guitar with  you! Even your band members were completely amazed!  If you've forgotten, here's a reminder: 


I know this all sounds completely childish (and it is), but it's like you didn't want to offend the entire southeast, so you put in a couple of shots from Atlanta to make it seem like you weren't trying to be biased.  However, let me assure you it's okay to record a live album in Kentucky.  Um, Alison Krauss did a 2 cd (and dvd) at The Palace in Louisville.  Michael W. Smith recorded a live cd at Southeast Church in Louisville.  Sugarland recorded one of their songs on their "Love on the Inside" record in Lexington.  It's socially acceptable to record a cd in one location.  All y'all know that Kentucky crowds rock.  It's only a secret to the neighboring states.  But we won't tell them.  We're polite like that.

So next time, you don't have to front.  The phone's ringing, so I gotta go.  Take care!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hooray For Family

As I sit here, it's semi-early (7:15 a.m.).  The house is quiet.  But we have had the best time over the last twenty hours.

If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that it's been a very crazy summer.  It's been one filled with illness, recovery, and learning-both in classrooms and out.  But for a little while last night, it felt like our home was the way I remembered some of my relative's homes when I was growing up.  And it did wonders for my spirits.

Usually, my family is the one who does the traveling around.  If we have kinfolk who come up from Florida to Virginia, we'll visit Virginia, and manage to see lots of family.  (Once, when I was twelve or thirteen, I spent the week in Virginia.  Never even had time to miss my family-we were too busy having a big time.)

Since Daddy has been ill, people have been coming to us.  The fact that at the moment we are unable to travel makes me sad.  But all of the guests have been wonderful.  

Over the last few weeks, but especially the last 24 hours, we have visited.  We have eaten our fill.  We have reminisced.  I've heard stories about my cousins, my parents, my grandparents that I'd never heard.

And we have laughed.  

The kind of laughter that makes not only your sides but your face hurt.  The kind that makes you gasp and giggle and then start all over again.  The kind that you take for granted while you're laughing, but when you get a quiet moment to just sit and reflect, you realize how very blessed you are.  Because you haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

And you see you're blessed because you have so many people who care about your family in your life.  And to see how God sends you those people just when you need them.   And you can't help but echo David's sentiment, "What is man that you are mindful of him?" Psalm 8:4

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Reading List

Here are the books on my nightstand.  The Summer 2010 Rundown:

  • King Lear by William Shakespeare.  Atleast I can now say I've read this classic.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream  by William Shakespeare.  LOVED IT!
  • You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning by Celia Rivenbark.  Though I am a non-drinker, I love good southern humor.  This fits the bill. 
  • Somebody Is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays.  Again, another southern humor book that is just too good to be true. 
  • 64 Great Games to Make The school teacher in me is getting her fix by reading what games I can prepare for the upcoming year.  Now if I can just get my hands on enough tagboard....
  • Tools for Promoting Active, In-depth Learning by Silver and Strong.  Always on the look out for how to enrich my classroom.  This book as lots of great tools.  And I bought it (and the games book) at a consignment sale.  I love a good bargain!
  • The Me I Want To Be by John Ortberg.  I have really enjoyed Mr. Ortberg's books ever since I went to a retreat in college at Lake Cumberland and the speaker used his book If You Want To Walk On Water, You've Got To Get Out Of the Boat as the topic that weekend.  Water will always be one of my favorites (I also really adore When The Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box), but this one is nice as well. 
  • The Message version of the Bible is offering a new perspective on things.  I really love the NIV version, but this isn't bad. 
And there are more books I haven't gotten to yet, but they will be plowed through.  All in good time. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dear Chris Tomlin

Dear Chris Tomlin,

Greetings.  By now I am sure it has come to your attention that I will not be in attendance Saturday when you lead worship at that wonderful pavilion of pleasure known as King's Island.  Knowing you are the sensitive type and are completely devastated by this absence, I feel the need to explain my truancy.

As you know, we go back.  Like way back.  Like, remember when you would sign cds? Before the whole mp3 thing became a big deal?  Guess which cd I have a signed copy of?  Not to Us.  Yeah, that's how far back we go. 

And usually if you are within a hundred mile radius of Lexington I (and some peeps) will happily traverse to worship with you.  [Okay, there was that whole 'nother time there was a trip to Nashville.  But that was due to an unfortunate debacle (see Ichthus comma, 2007 and people who would druther talk than sing worship songs).]  However, this is the venue and date at which I draw the proverbial line in the sand.

Dude, do you know what King's Island is?  I know you're from Texas and all, so let me enlighten you.  It's an amusement park.  And it's super fun.  They do have a lot of great roller coasters (if you need to know which are worth the wait and which to stroll on by, just let me know).  I really like the idea of this combo, but I just can't deal with it being on a Saturday.

I know the economy is rough and all, but you're going to be there.  So is Toby Mac. And Third Day.  On a weekend.  The weekends are usually crowded as is.  However, this is really going to bring in people by the truckloads.  (Though in this case, it's the church vans.)  Let me give you some perspective: I would sometimes have one of your cds playing when the bell rang as the kids came into my classroom.  One of my kindergarteners would ask me, "Do you have any Toby Mac?"  So you KNOW if five year old is requesting Toby Mac, it is going to be unmistakably crowded.  I don't abhor crowds, but I know enough to avoid gobs of people.  

I wish y'all a good time.  Please don't shed any tears because I'm sitting this one out.  Do ride the Beast for me-it's my favorite roller coaster.  A good time will be had by all up there though-those who are brave enough to face a blue million people at King's Island are sure in for a treat.  Surely the Lord will be there in your midst-His favor is definitely upon you.  Have a wonderful time!


Why I Teach

Some do it for the money.  Others for the fame.  For me personally, it's to help kids avoid looking like fools.  I saw this yesterday.  If they had taken a moment to read the sign before getting on a machine and attaching it to the side, it would have saved them a lot of work.  But it sure gave me a good laugh.  Look closely and you'll see why. (You have to click on the pic to see the other half and see why this is hysterical.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you....You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.'  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth,
and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.  Deuteronomy 8:10, 17-18

We all know how blessed we are to live in the United States.  While the U.S. has its problems, and we are all aware of them, I still cannot help but feel gratitude that I am an American citizen. 

And much like the Scripture says, whcn I look at my possessions, at our great nation, sometimes I am tempted to pat myself (or collectively ourselves) on the back and take credit for a job well done.

Then, conviction creeps in.  And I realize that all I have has nothing to do with me.  It has to do with the sacrifices of others, from the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives and their occupations so that we can live, work and play with freedom and security.  It's about family members who sacrificed self so they could help form character and help make sure their families had all they needed.  It's about the founders of our who valued worship so much they were ready to venture to an unknown.

Above all else, the reason why America is great is because God has put His favor on it.  We have done nothing to deserve it, which is why it's called favor.  We don't need to delude ourselves into thinking that we earned it, it's simply His grace.  

So I humbly ask you this long weekend, as we celebrate America's birthday and contemplate how very fortunate we are to live in this blessed nation, to do exactly as Moses instructed the Israelites a long time ago.  Eat, be satisified, be thankful!  Just be sure and remember to whom those thanks must be given.