Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flaws and All

Like a'll yall, I sometimes have theological discussions at Starbucks.  In the drive-thru lane.

'Cause that's how I roll.

And (sadly) I'm not joking.  And since Starbucks is trying to sucker people in by offering half priced drinks if you show your receipt from the morning, and since I have an addiction to a certain drink that will soon require an intervention, I've been there lately.  A LOT.

Last week I was getting some caffeine for the drive home (because working 15 hours a day will flat wear you out), but I had on my sunglasses.  And the super trendy barista commented on how she really liked them.  

When people comment on them, it always brings a smile to my face, because my favorite author gave to me.  (Why she gave them to me is another post, but I'm getting off task here, but at least it's taken me a couple of sentences.)  These shades are a few years old and have on them.  Throughout the years the years, a few of the rhinestones have come off.  But that doesn't deter me in my quest to look as queenly as possible why keeping UVA rays from my irises.

So I start telling her the story about how my favorite author gave them to me, and how I love them, even though they are missing a couple of rhinestones.  And the barista looks at me and says, "You know, I think that makes them look even more beautiful.  There's this new age idea, I think it comes from Japan, that talks about how some crystals or prisms are worth even more because of their flaws."  And we got to talking about how the flaws are really things that ought to be more readily embraced, then shunned.

Which brings me to God.  And how He has without hesitation accepted us.  And because He is a God who is known to be extravagant and good, He will often take those very same flaws and use them for the greater good.  Take for example:
  • Peter:  wildly impulsive (remember he was the one who cut off a guard's ear?)  God took that fiery passion and love for Him, and used it to help build the first century church.  Peter kept that same "flaw" (being impulsive, caring too much) and God harnessed it.  Peter preached the Gosepl and healed the sick.  God used his flaws in a major way.
  • And speaking of healing, remember the story of Jesus and the blind man? Popular talk around the town was if something bad happened, you'd done something to deserve it.  But Jesus took this man's flaw and we still read about it.  If you keep reading, you see how this man put some of the religious know it alls in their place.  And at the end of the story, he calls Jesus, "Master" and worships him.
  • And while we're on the subject of worship, we can't help but talk about David.  Bless his heart.  And David did have a flaw or two (adultery, trying to cover up his adultery, then sending a man to the front line to have the man killed so he could marry his baby mama), but despite all that, the Lord loved him and used him.  One of my favorite passages is written by him.  David was the original worship leader. 
And as a Christian, it encourages me to know that God embraces these people and still uses them, flaws and all.  He doesn't stop trying to shape them and make them into the best they can be, but he doesn't throw up his hands in exasperation and say, "That's it! I'm finished!!"  And that gives my soul some peace. 

So the next time I'm having a theological discussion with a barista at Starbucks (and y'all, it's just a matter of time), we'll talk about how this idea of embracing flaws is not New Age.  It's actually Old School. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Solicitor

Dear Solicitor,

This is just a friendly letter (remember how we were made to practice them repeatedly?  It's paid off big time for me-I write friendly letters every day) to warn you that you really might want to think twice about coming to my house.  (On second thought, it's probably more of a persuasive letter, but we'll see.)

Consider the most recent case.  Now my people have tried to be as courteous as y'all will permit (and yes I know it's your job to try and get us to purchase whatever super duper doo hickey you're trying to sell).  The problem is, you don't ever interrupt me at work, when you would definitely have my full attention and energy.  You interrupt me at home, when I am wore out and just want to try to get a moment's peace and quiet.  (Please note that reads "moment".  Cause I get very few of them.)  And my family is the same way.

Which is why historically when people call or show up, they are politely told, "No, thank you."  We may have to be a little more firm if you persist, and I know your job requires just that.  And some people, i.e. my daddy, have been known to get right hostile.  Because at our house, you're interrupting one of several things: a nap, supper, or Judge Judy.  And depending on the potential consumer, your life may be much easier if you interrupt supper than Judge Judy.  There are some things in life you just don't mess with.

So Wednesday, the doorbell rings at 6 p.m.  When no one rushes to answer it, the ever so thoughtful last solicitor kept ringing it urgently and frequently.  We've been expecting a visit from the preacher, but since his mama raised him right, we knew by the door bell incident, this wasn't him.  And I'm wondering, Mr. Solicitor, why you ain't in church on Wednesday night.  'Cause you gonna need it soon.

Daddy abandoned his nap to answer the door (I was awake but unable to answer it), I hear the salesman.  And then I hear Dad invite him inside.  They exchange pleasantries, and I can't make sense of it all.  Cause this is not normal.  As I'm trying to decide if we need to take my father back to the hospital, Daddy calls Mama, who sets him straight.  The extremely doorbell happy man was a salesman for the City's Memorial Garden.  He was trying to sell them burial plots. 

Daddy, fresh from his nap and still groggy, heard, "I want to mow your garden."  And he, being no fool, was all about someone coming to cut the grass.  Mama, on the other hand, is now irate because not only did she have to explain this little miscommunication BUT someone did not get their nap out, nor their Judge Judy.  And we like routines here.

Is there really a further explanation needed for why you must avoid us? 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

So a while ago I was in college.  (And since I'm going to embark on my first tangent, let me just say I tell everyone in school to stay in school forever.  Because it's the greatest time of your life. Seriously.  But that's another post.)

And one day I just really thought I would be Ms. Thing (okay, atleast I'm owning it now) and not test God, because I knew what Scripture had to say about that.  But I thought it'd be fun to see how He'd come through for me.

I needed bread.

You see, I had deli sliced turkey from Walmart, but no bread.  And I was residing in a Christian dorm, so God was practically on speed dial all the time. 

So walking back to 508 Columbia Avenue, I decided to pour out my request to God: "Lord, I need bread."

And walked back, knowing that God would provide.  Because He always does.  I even opened my door.  After all, I wasn't asking for much-just two slices.

But as I'm learning more and more, God had other ideas.  And while I sat watching my television (using just rabbit ears, thank you very much), no one came.  And I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. 

Cause I knew Scripture.  I knew that God would provide.  I knew that God was loving.  I knew that God cared.  So why hadn't he filled my request for two slices of bread?  At that point, I could have even made do with even just one.

So I ate my turkey-without-bread-sandwhich and never said a word to anyone.  Watched tv with the door open.  The Wesley Foundation was freakishly quiet that afternoon, too.  My anonymous bread donor never arrived.  (Nor did anyone else.)  But I had more important things (i.e. work) that needed to be addressed, so I couldn't pout for long.

And I learned a lesson.  No more silly requests before the Lord Almighty.

Fast forward to work that afternoon.  And Tangent #2.

Tangent #2 is this: I LOVE Texas.  It's probably because they have some of the most awesome singers ever (George Strait, Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, Chris Tomlin), their men are very courteous (that's another post), and their state is beautiful.  In fact, I am almost as arrogant about the state of Texas as a native Texan.  Almost.  If you knew me in college, you would agree.  Which brings me back around to...

Work.  LF came in that afternoon carrying a Kroger bag.  "Hey!"  she said brightly. "I was at Kroger this morning and saw this and had to buy it for you."

Peering into the bag, I am stunned.  Inside the bag is not one, not two, but a whole loaf of Texas Toast.  "It's toast," LF laughed, "TEXAS toast!"

I laugh with her, but cannot get over the timing of the whole incident.  The Lord provided bread for me.  And in typical fashion, He did it in His time.  However, He gave me more than what I ever expected, and better than what I expected.

And the fact that He does that, isn't that the best thing since sliced bread?

Monday, August 23, 2010

1000 Gifts #92-113

  • #92 Calm Monday
  • #93 Hugging a friend in the hall
  • #94 No accidents on the playground
  • #95 Everyone getting home safely
  • #96 Strawberry lemonade
  • #97 Laminating center games
  • #98 Following a tractor home
  • #99 American Flag, Christian Flag, and Kentucky Flag billowing in the wind
  • #100 Looking all around you in traffic and seeing UK tags
  • #101 Seeing thoroughbreds grazing at sunset
  • #102 Enjoying a sitcom
  • #103 Pressing on, even when it hurts
  • #104 Heat waves
  • #105 Chatting with baristas
  • #106 Teamwork
  • #107 Getting to bed early
  • #108 Not setting an alarm
  • #109 Good advice from a friend
  • #110 Kind voicemail messages
  • #111 Care packages
  • #112 Invitations
  • #113 Clean hands

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hebrews 11:1

About a month ago I was watching tv.  And I gotta tell ya, I was amazed by one commercial I saw.

I forget which camera it was advertising, but I distinctly remember the commercial saying you would see the results before you took the picture.  And that's just counter intuitive to my brain. 

Besides publicly admitting I'm not sure how the science of all that works (how can you show an image if it hasn't been captured yet-without capturing it?) , I just thought how as a Christian, wouldn't that be nice.

Wouldn't that be nice to know how this relationship will go before I invest a lot of time and energy?
Wouldn't it be nice to know how this situation is gonna play out, so I will know whether I need to be concerned or not?
Wouldn't it be nice to get the picture.

However, by the same token, I can think back over the last few years. Years when my faith has deepened because I didn't know how the end would play out.  I had to put my trust and my faith in God.  Not knowing the results before they happened led me to a better place in my walk with God.  It's allowed me to be a better minister to others.

And I can't help but think that God does wondrous things in us while we are putting our faith in him.   Knowing sure would have been nice, but it would have made us more self-reliant instead of God reliant. 

The author of Hebrews writes, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."  (Hebrews 11:1)

Right now I'm going through a season in my life that is requiring lots of faith.  And I've thought about that camera, and how I wished I could see the outcome of what's happening.  How nice it would be to see the results because right now in the midst of it I can't tell what the conclusion will be.

And I will publicly admit it's hard to see how God is working.  But I know God cares, even in the small things about my life (I have an upcoming post about that, and it involves bread of all things).  And I know that God is sovereign.

God is working good out, even when I don't see it or feel it. 

And faith is trusting that the picture will come out well before it it is taken.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Day At The Market

So my BFF named LF and I went to the massive indoor flea market in Louisville a couple of weekends ago.  And because I'm not quite ready to tell the day in words, pictures will have to suffice:
This is the truck and trailer that nearly backed into LF's new SUV.  It's a good thing they had the trailer on the back.  With the body painted camo, we never would have seen it coming.

Look at the city on the plate tag.  Is there an explanation needed why I only claim that city on Derby Day?

I don't know what's more distressing: this sign or the fact I bought something from this woman.

For reasons I can't explain, the Steelers get plenty of love in the Bluegrass. Hence a 10' tall center in the middle of the Expo center.  They wanted people to pay money for this.  Seriously.

Consider yourself warned: next Game Night, I'm bringing my mini-corn hole game.  And class will be in session.  And ye shall be schooled.

Though it's taken many a Kroger, Taste of Kentucky, and Highway 127 Yard Sale, my Derby Glass collection is complete with these six glasses!  I now have all the glasses from my birth year on up.  Now if I can just find an adequate spot to display them...

Love this motto.

After Daddy's stroke, this especially holds true.

Again, another thing I saw it connected with me because of everything that's gone on this summer. Needless to say, it was a productive day at the market!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Help Wanted: A Good Speech Therapist

Okay, so it hit me like a ton of bricks just how much time I spent with small children I spent last year.

How? You ask. (So glad you did, by the way.  You are always so gracious.)

I have a subscription to Rhapsody.  Which means when I get two seconds I can listen to music and put it on cds.  This past weekend I had a free hour, so I took my list of songs I had been wanting to put on a disc downstairs and prepared to make a cd.

You can search by song title or by artist.  The whole thing can be pretty finicky, so I usually just search by artist.  I can normally tell who is singing the song, but don't always get the song titles as precise as the Rhapsody search engine demands.

Which leads to today's post.

I LOVE a certain song I'd been hearing on Redneck K-Love.  (Yeah, I know there's another name for it, but most of the time I can't remember it.  And I call it that out of respect.)  And I'm kinda ticked because the other (read: secular) radion stations won't play it.  And I don't know who sings it, because RKL doesn't usually announce the artists they've just played.

So I searched "Three Things I Wouldn't Trade For Anything" on Rhapsody and came up empty.  Changed the "Three" to "3" because the search engine is that picky. Still nothing.  Then I tried it and switched "trade" to "change".  Nada.  Zilch.  Zeee-rooo.

Out of frustration, I went to Google.  And typed in the few words I could remember.  And what do you know?  

This is what I found.  (You can click on the word "this" and it will take you there-my hyperlink is being weird.)  As it turns out, being around a lot of people missing teeth will do something to your ability to differentiate sounds.  And boy did I have a big laugh when I realized that.  And it has only added to my enjoyment of the song.  

One day, my life will be normal! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

1000 Gifts #64-91

  • #64 Tired feet
  • #65 Knowing you've done your best
  • #66 Crickets singing
  • #67 Throats clearing
  • #68 Exhaustion
  • #69 Five layer sunrises
  • #70 Frustration
  • #71 Epiphanies that arise out of frustration
  • #72 First days
  • #73 Hot water
  • #74 Journey's end
  • #75 Starbucks gift card
  • #76 Co-workers who "get it"
  • #77 Morning recess
  • #78 Computer lab teachers who stop everything to help
  • #79 Reflecting
  • #80 Library books
  • #81 Phone conversations with a friend
  • #82 Hitting a stoplight at JUST the right time
  • #83 The workroom piled high with fresh copy paper
  • #84 Running off copies without jamming the copier
  • #85 Chuckles over car messages
  • #86 Grieving with a friend
  • #87 Catching up with an old neighbor
  • #88 George Strait blaring on the radio
  • #89 Admitting you need help
  • #90 Helping a stranger find a good book in Joseph Beth
  • #91 Encouraging a friend in Walmart

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hey, Kettle! This is Pot!

In keeping with the bizarre things that just HAPPEN to me on the highway, consider this:

I'm driving down the highway the other day.  Since this is where I spend approximately 20% of my time, it stands to reason I may on occasion chat on the phone. 

Sue me. 

For the last couple of days I'd been trying to get in touch with a dear friend of mine who has been through it lately.  It's odd (and not in a good way) how our summers have mirrored each other.  We both teach school, and we both have brown hair, but she's way more funny. This summer we have both been dealt father illnesses.  I found out the latest last week and was trying to call her and catch up.  This is complicated by the fact I'm now working and we're separated by a time zone.

Which is why I was so glad to be able to talk to her when she called the other day as I was driving home. 

And because in Kentucky there is no shortage of idiots, I have a biker who passes me by and yells, "Get off the phone before you wreck!"

It took me a moment to process what he'd said.  Because the top was down and the wind was loud.  And he was gone before I could even give him an Evil Eye or Benevolent Smile.  I would like to think the proffered advice was said out of a place of warm, caring concern.  However, let's consider that age old axiom, "Don't point a finger at others because there's three pointing back at you."  This gentleman:
  • Turned to face me the entired time he offered these wonderful and concise words of wisdom
  • Was on a motorcycle without a helmet
  • Was talking to a total stranger (Didn't his mama tell him about talking to strangers?)
And because I am a well read woman, the sage words of Bridget Jones came to me (and sadly I can't recall which book it's from):  "That's the pot calling the kettle dirty bottom."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dear Y'all

Dear Y'all,
It's hot outside.  That's all.

Monday, August 9, 2010

1000 Gifts #11-63

In keeping with the gifts God gives, here are some more:
  • java chip frappucinos
  • pink lemonade
  • sounds of lawn mowers
  • cha cha slides at weddings
  • chicken dances at weddings
  • john wall dance at a wedding
  • a friend finding her bridegroom
  • smell of freshly cut grass
  • cousins visiting
  • daddy out of the hospital
  • spontaneous recovery
  • friends who call to let you know they are thinking of you
  • warm casseroles
  • warm summer nights
  • good communion times
  • good praise times
  • playing pit
  • playing spades
  • planning family reunion dishes
  • reading
  • prisms casting small rainbows on your books
  • riding home with the top down
  • planning to meet up with friends
  • hugs from co-workers
  • someone who understands your pain
  • humid nights talking on the deck
  • watching Mama point to a plant and say, "This plant came from a seed I planted 3 years ago"
  • receiving forgiveness from God
  • receiving forgiveness from a friend
  • two minutes of peace and quiet
  • strangers in the doctor's office talking about their gardens
  • finding candy bars from last week's class in my backpack
  • singing in the shower
  • vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles
  • long chats with friends
  • surprise emails
  • beautiful sunrise
  • remembering your family
  • fresh bearclaws from cousins
  • ceiling fans whirring
  • good devotional books 
  • turtles
  • surprise baptism from water fountain
  • air conditioning
  • new UK mini-cornhole bags
  • playing tabletop cornhole with LF
  • buying Blizzards for a good cause
  • white cheddar mashed potatoes
  • friends who greet you with a squeal
  • seeing someone put flowers on their sweetheart's van window
  • hearing your students from last year missed you
  • sunshine
  • supper with Mama and Daddy

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Life Is A Highway

You wouldn't be-lieve what I witnessed on the road yesterday.  But I'll give you a hint: I've seen some bad drivers in the past, but I have now seen everything.

We've discussed the fact I commute to Lexington every day.  School starts next week.  Which means my classroom must be readied for the year.  I'm an early bird.  I can get more accomplished in the early morning hours before kids come into the building than I can after they leave.  Therefore, I try to get to school as early as possible, in order to maximize my productivity.

Which means I left the house at 6:15 on a Friday morning.  And was cruising through Nicholasville (the southern gateway to Fayette County) at 6:45 a.m.

I was in the left lane, adhering to speed limit.  There was a lane merger in the right lane, which is why I wasn't in that lane.  I check my rear view mirror, being the super responsible driver I am, to find a white Honda who has decided it would be loads of fun to ride in my backseat.  Being the utmost courteous driver, I check the right lane, see no one is merging, and head on over.

Deciding to express my frustration at having uninvited guests in my backseat, as they are passing me, I turn to give them The Evil Eye.  However, they were not available to receive The Evil Eye.  How come?  They had far more pressing matters at hand.

Like the dvd they were watching on all four screens in their car.

You read that correctly-this car had two very long screens installed in the sun visors, and two in the head rests.  And they had the system going while there was no traffic.  I was not impressed.  And thought I had seen it all.

Until today.

Heading back to my classroom, same highway, just a little bit further south.  I spy a biker couple.  He's infront, she's behind, and they've got a trailer, and they're hauling something.  I had to do a double take.

It's not every day you see a motorcyle hauling a red casket down a major highway.

Since the people on the bike didn't look bereaved, I'm assuming there was not a body inside the casket.

Two drives, two very weird things witnessed on the way to work.

Pray for me come Monday morning.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Family Tradition

Today was a wonderful day.

Today I got to do something I have not done much of all summer.  I talked (which is normal, 'cause that happens.  ALL the time.)  But it was at someone's house.  In chairs.  Like an adult. 

Not in my car, rushing from point A to B.  Not marching around the neighborhood in the twilight or evening hours.  It was so refreshing to just sit and have a face to face conversation with a lovely hostess.  If you ever want charming company, I can tell you to visit my friend Melanie.  She makes super yummy cupcakes and has funny stories.  After hearing about how they celebrated her friend's birthday, I am making it a point to stay on this lady's good side.

Anyway, at one point today we were reminiscing about something and Mel was saying something about her grandmother.  Which got me to thinking about my grandmother.

My dad's mother passed away when I was sixteen.  Daddy was raised in Tennessee, and I've grown up in central Kentucky.  My parents made it a point to try and visit her monthly, but there was always a house full at that Granny's.  There was always at least one cousin, and more often than not, one or two aunts and uncles there.  Lots of people to have fun with, and lots of animals to pet.  A creek, cards games to play or movies to watch.  My mom and dad would visit with my grandmother (my grandfather having passed away when I was three) and I would talk to her, but not that often.

As a result, I was not as close as I would like to have been.

I can tell you a lot about her.  I can tell you she loved the Lord, that even though she went blind from glaucoma in her middle age, that didn't deter her devotion one bit.  She knew as much of the Bible by heart near the end of her life as she did when she was sighted.  The local gospel radio station would hold memory verse contests.  My granny knew so much they station actually asked her to stop calling in with the answers.  Because she was putting everyone else in the county to shame. :)

She's been gone for over a dozen years now, and the hurt is not so fresh.  I wish I had not been so preoccupied with dogs, cats, and cousins.  But every so often, something will happen that brings her memory to light.  And it will make me smile.

A while back, Mama and I were discussing something.  I can't remember what it was, but it was something I wasn't too excited about.  Mom said something, and I had an immediate reply for it.  And Mom just looks at me, smiles and says, "You have your grandmother's wit."

Because both my grannys can be pretty entertaining, I asked her to clarify.  And she explained it was Daddy's mom.  Again, the grandmother I knew was very holy and good.  I had not heard about this woman.  And Mama explained that before I was born, Granny was known for her banter.

And I can't explain to you how, over ten years later, it does my little heart good to know I somewhat possess that trait.  It's nice to know that someone who knows the both of us can see the similiarity.  I guess that's the part of me that wishes she were still here and this is a small way her memory is still alive.  It's our own family tradition.

Meeting my granny for the first time at the age of two weeks.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gift From a Child

Sometimes the obvious is right under your nose.

My day job (192 days a year) is teaching children.  Though to be perfectly honest, on my less than stellar days, I say my day job is I wrangle children.  Any teacher or mother will completely agree.

Back to task. 

Because my classroom was not immune to the Silly Band craze of 2010 (and how I am kicking myself for not thinking them up!), I saw a lot of 'em.  They were fine as long as they didn't interfere with instruction, which they mostly didn't. 

And then the year started drawing to a close.  So you get some silliness.  And my kids started doing the wildest thing.

They started giving me their silly bands. 


At first, I would return them to the child who gave them to me at the end of the day.  I mean, who wants to be the one who took a bracelet from a kid? 
And then, I had a conversation with Jamie.  I was going to hand her the bracelet her son gave me with the explanation that I was really touched by the fact he wanted to share his bands, when she looked at me and said, "No, please take it.  He adores you.  Please keep it." 
And that completely changed my outlook on the bands. 

From then on, I started keeping the bands and seeing them as the selfless acts of love and generosity that they were.  I halfway expected to get a phone call or a kid to come up and want their bracelet back, but they never did.  (And if you're accustomed to dealing with five and six year olds, you know this is nothing short of a miracle.)

They rode around in my car console for the entire summer.  They were a great source of entertainment for passengers.  For me, they were small, colorful reminders that there are people in the world who care about you.  Like the bands, they come in different shapes and sizes, and have different personalities.  And like the silly bands, they make you smile.   And they mean so much to me, because those kids gave me what was most precious to them.  And I think of how often I hold back what is most precious of mine- be it time, resources, or finances.  And I'm beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those such as these.  I long to be more like those kids.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

1000 Gifts

I don't keep up with a lot of things.

To be truthful, the news often saddens me.  I can't tell you what the stock market has done on any given day, or the rankings of any team (unless it involves the Cats-did you see where UK is picked to finish ahead of UT for the first time in 15 years?  Go Cats!)

But back on track. 

There is one blog I try to keep up with (Ann Voskamp's blog ).  She and her family live on a working farm in Canada.  Her writing is always poignant and convicting.  She is wonderful.  One of the things she does on her blog is she keeps a running list of gifts she's grateful for.  Some are very, very profound.  Others are very free spirited.  But she writes about how this sense of gratitude has impacted her and changed her and challenges others to try and list 1,000 things they are grateful for.

So that's my challenge to myself.

It's the first day of August.  I'd like to start my list today.  There's no telling when it will be complete.  Some of the items you may not find all that inspiring.  That's okay-you can make your own list.  I'd love to know what's on yours.

So here goes.  I'm thankful for:
  1. Salvation
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Naps
  5. Chocolate
  6. Laughter
  7. Singing songs with my best friend on the ride back home
  8. Sweet smiles from the kids at Sunday School
  9. Hugs
  10. Quiet