Monday, May 31, 2010

Finally made it...

What a week we've had. I underestimated the toll a crazy week at school could take on me, as I found myself beyond exhausted. I actually came home Tuesday night after working until 6:45 and sat down for a cry. Even though I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, my tired body and mind just felt like I couldn't make it one more step.

I did, however, and it's all over now! No more work until August. Wow. I woke up with such a sense of calm Saturday morning. It's hard to explain the feeling of suddenly not have to jump up and run at 5:20 a.m. and not stop until 10 at night. I do love my job dearly, but I am so grateful for good ol' Summertime!

Our Jordan graduated from high school Friday night. It is just so hard to believe! Where in the world did that time go? Rain forced us to take the ceremony to Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, and it was quite an experience. I stressed so much all week about the possibility, and the idea of tickets for that event cut out a lot of people that planned to come in support of Jordan. On the other hand, there were people that told Jordan they weren't coming that she had really counted on being there. It was a week of emotions that left me drained as a mom, as if work hadn't drained every ounce of anything I already had. By Friday, however, I felt a calm as we settled the ticket issue and I realized that it was coming and going whether I was mentally present or not. I was present, and I took in every second of it, and we are so proud that Jordan graduated with honors.

What I'm not proud of is the great, big redneck audience in that auditorium. There were police officers present in case of any unneeded outbursts, but the classless people there were obviously not intimidated. I was embarrassed to be a part of the Boiling Springs crowd, as people yelled out ridiculous things at people and proudly walked out in front of everyone without need for police escort. It left me wondering where in the world I was living if we can't even attend a formal event honoring our children without a bunch of idiots showing their rear ends. When we got in the car to leave, one of our girls said that we must live in the most redneck place in the world. Way to impress everyone, stupids. How about mustering up a little class before my next daughter graduates in 2014? Set an example, people, and not a bad one you bunch of bone-heads.

Now, I feel better. It's been a fabulous weekend, it really has. Thank you Lord for Summertime. And thank you Lord for giving my family and me enough class to not show ourselves in public.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The race is on....

Yep, I'm here, but only for a moment. The race is on to complete the school year. Summer is coming. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!

My oldest daughter is graduating from high school Friday night. Wow. What in the world happened to that time? Actually, I've enjoyed every minute of it, and I know that the other three girls are right behind her.

I will expound on these thoughts as soon as I have more than 5 minutes to spare. We are off to Carowinds tomorrow for "Family Day", although Jordan will not be joining us due to her being in Chicago. She sure looks happy in the pictures I've seen though, and I wouldn't want her to be anywhere else today.

The next week will be a wild one, as I have to work extra hours to wrap up loose ends at school. It did bring this to mind though, and I will now leave you with it.....

I asked God to help me get things done today, and He told me to "be still".
I asked God for strength to make it through the week, and He said, "you can do all things through Me Who strengthens you."
I asked God to help me sleep, and He told me to rest in Him.
I asked God to help me remember my priorities, and He simply said, "remember".
I asked God to bless my family and me, and He said, "I already have."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Just another day.

Ouch. Sunburn. I always use sunscreen, but I do like to brown a little. Um, I browned a little too much today. A day at the pool was nice though, and it was long overdue. This was the first morning in over a month that I was able to sleep late and not have to rush somewhere. Wow, that's crazy. It's almost Summer though, but I hope my time at the pool will go better than this day did.

I almost drowned today. In front of my kids, I almost drowned. I eased over to the ladder of the pool and decided to take a dip to cool off from sunbathing. It was pretty chilly, but I decided to take the plunge at the urging of my children. I jumped. It was cold. I inhaled. I thought I was dying. I went a little deeper than I expected too, so when I came up I made the most awful sound. I truly didn't think I was going to be able to catch my breath. The kids were laughing at me because I don't think they realized I couldn't breathe. I just hope my lungs aren't so full of pool water that I end up with pneumonia. (My chest sure feels tight.)

As I mentioned in the beginning, I also ended up sunburned. It will be okay though. Dang sunscreen didn't work so well this time.

Way back in the late 1970s, my family went to Disney World. Mom, Dad, my brother Jason, myself, my cousin David who is only one year older than I am, and my Grandmother Birdie. I remember only a few things about the trip, but a few of the things have to do with David. One of the most memorable is when he jumped into the hotel pool and nearly drowned before Daddy saved him. David thought it would be a great story to send back home to his Mom and Dad. He wrote a few things on the postcard, and the last sentence said something about him drowning in the pool that day. He had to "be continued" on the next postcard. My aunt and uncle got the first postcard one day and the second postcard a day later, so they didn't get the part about the rescue. Good thing it was David writing the notes.

So, as I head into Summer, I pray that all will be safe. Don't drown, use sunscreen, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Summer brings out snakes, craziness on the lake, snakes, more drunk drivers, snakes, and irresponsible teenagers with way too much time on their hands. Life should certainly be enjoyed, but we should take care of ourselves so that we can look forward to many more Summers to come.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Meeting Number 3

I grew up in Mooresville, North Carolina, which is now dubbed "Race City USA". It was not unusual to run into Michael Waltrip at Wal-Mart, which we did, or Rusty Wallace at Belk's, which we also did. It was a normal accurance to just see random NASCAR drivers at various places around town, and most everyone just left them alone because we were accustomed to it.

The driver that I saw the most was Dale Earnhardt. Yep, the man himself. I must start with my first encounter.... It was a most memorable day that makes a great story to tell at a party.

I was 19 years old and working as a pharmacy technician at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center. The old hospital was downtown at that time, and across the street there was a small restaurant in the side of a building called Little Spaghetti House. Actually, Little Spaghetti House was my very first job which I loved dearly. Well, I was leaving work at the hospital one day, and I was planning to pick up lunch for Mom and myself. I pulled into the Little Spaghetti House parking lot, and when I got out of my car I realized that there was quite a crowd going in. I didn't realize at that time that they were all men and all wearing black, but now that I think about it, I believe they were. I was preoccupied as I walked up to the door and didn't notice that the last man in line was holding the door open for me. He asked, "Are you in the free lunch line?" I looked up for the first time, and I was face to face with the man himself. Dale Earnhardt.

I'm sure he heard me audibly catch my breath. I was stunned. I immediately started shaking. He must have noticed that he took me off guard, because he grinned that sly grin of his and shook his head. In fact, I think he blushed a little himself and looked at the ground for a moment. He was aptly named "The Intimidator" on the racetrack, but the same could hold true just for the man that he was. Although he may not be considered by most as good-looking, he was ruggedly handsome and powerful. His mere presence rattled me hard. It was almost like you could feel you were in the midst of a legend.

I finally did respond to him, probably stupidly enough that it gave him a laugh later, that I was there to get lunch for my mom and myself. He said that he would be happy to buy her lunch too. I don't know what I said to that, but I'm sure I smiled and nodded as he allowed me to step in front of him to order. He ordered and worked his way over to one of the tables that held his racing crew, and later I realized that he had won the race on that Sunday before and was treating them for their work.

When my order was ready, I walked over to his table, being closely watched by his crew, and I walked up behind him. I leaned over to thank him, and he smiled, hugged me, and told me I was very welcome. I could hear his crew laughing as I walked out, but I didn't even care. I had met Dale Earnhardt.

Now, I'm not sure if he just thought I was a cute 19 year old hopping out of my convertible and wanted to see if I would talk to him, or if he just wanted to do something nice for someone. I really don't care either way. There are only a few people that I have met that literally took my breath away, and he was one of them. I hadn't been a big race fan up to that point, but I sure was after that. I always pulled for that black #3 car because of my encounter with the man driving it.

That wasn't the last time I saw Dale Earnhardt. There were two other times that I remember pulling my convertible up to a stop light and having a big black truck pull up next to me. He rolled his window down and tipped his hat at me and smiled. I don't know if he remembered meeting me that first day or not, but it was a thrill for me each time I saw him. This made it all the more heartbreaking for me on February 18th, 2001.

We were sitting in the living room of my grandparents watching the race that day, and we had celebrated my grandfather's birthday. I'll never forget seeing that crash. I immediately stood up and said, "Something's not right." They kept tiptoeing around the issue, and I kept saying, "Something's wrong. I want them to show him." They never did of course, and on the way home our worst fears about the Intimidator were confirmed. He was gone. We stopped on our way home at the grocery store close to our house, and weeping race fans were already coming out of the store holding flowers that they would take just a few miles up the road to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. I cried a lot that night, and I felt so strange for doing so. I didn't really know the man, but he sure left an impression on me.

I found myself having to go to DEI myself the next day. I took all of the kids with me. It was a circus there, and it was difficult to find a place to park. There were satellite vans from ESPN, CNN, FOXNEWS, and others. When we walked up to the front gate, it was full of flowers, notes, pictures, and other momentos. It was so crowded with people, but the only sound you heard was the quiet sobbing of those around you. It was one of the strangest feelings I've ever had. I stood there and cried too, and I couldn't figure out why. It was just an emotionally charged atmosphere on the backdrop of the lobby of that grand building he had dreamed of, his picture larger than life on the inside.

We took pictures there that day, and to look at them is so surreal. To think that his grand career ended that quickly was difficult to wrap the mind around. To think that his powerful presence would never be felt by anyone again was unimaginable to those that had been around him. That day, I was most thankful for the small memories that I had of that ruggedly handsome man that took my breath away.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's that buzzing noise?

It's a million little bumblebees flying around the school!! Okay, in reality, it's only a thousand fifth and sixth graders trying to contain themselves from flying around the school!! I have never seen or heard anything like it!

We are just two weeks away from releasing the little beasts into the good ol' Summertime. Look out world. They are bursting in their own skin as we speak, and teachers at this time of year struggle with what to do with all of that. We were testing this week but today is the last day, and there is a feeling among everyone, students and teachers alike, that we are done now and it's all downhill from here. That's a lovely thought, but the fact of the matter is that we still have to find something to do with these young 'uns for two weeks!

I remember being excited as a kid about getting out of school for the Summer. I knew that it would mean sleeping late, riding my bike and playing outside a lot, and visiting grandma and grandpa more frequently. It meant no schedules, no deadlines, and no pressure of completing anything that I didn't want to complete. (Except for the list of chores that was left in the morning, which was quickly tackled 30 minutes before Mom was home from work at noon.) Well, guess what?

Now I'm an adult. A 41 year old woman that teaches 5th graders. And guess what? I AM SO EXCITED! Summer means that I get to sleep late, play outside a lot, visit my grandma and grandpa as often as I want, no schedules, no deadlines, and no pressure of completing anything that I don't want to complete! (Except for an occasional list of chores that will be tackled in 30 minutes.)

The energy in the school is palpable. It is suddenly a living, breathing being. If you stop and glance into a classroom, there are literally kids that are struggling to not just jump up out of their desk and run. I actually had a kid run up to me on the playground and just shake and scream. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. We just don't know what to do with ourselves!

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could see that energy harnessed? I bet we could provide energy that Duke Power never thought about having. Kind of like on Monsters, Inc., when they harnessed the screams of children to power their world. If only that energy could be used for the good of our nation!

I remember many years ago that I took a very energetic young man to school each morning. He was the cutest thing with his head full of curly brown hair. He loved to talk, run, play, talk, act crazy, talk, and laugh. I really had a great time with that kid, as he provided a little boy-ness for our girly world. (Even though I only had two at that time.) His mom once told me, "I just wish I could harness all that energy. You know, he may just end up being a preacher one day, if I can keep him out of jail." That really cracked me up, and I'm happy to announce that the young man is graduating from high school this month without a criminal record.

Sadly, that same static energy will get some kids in trouble. Our ISS room will be full until the end of the year. Some kids will lose privileges of doing all the fun stuff that we offer with the last two weeks of school. A lot of them will just not know what in the world to do with themselves, so they will do something dumb and get in trouble.

The other kids, the ones who can contain themselves, can join me outside the last day of school. There will be laughing, singing, dancing, and fun for all, and there will certainly be no tears. Well, actually, there may be a few tears of joy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Please tell me you aren't serious.

Sadly, I believe I could give away one of these diplomas every day to someone I come into contact with. I was inspired however last night by one particular man.

I attended a meeting at our local school board office, and a group of students were singing for the board before the meeting started. I stood at the back of the room because of the large crowd in the small space, and in front of me I saw a man with a woman by his side. Now, mind you, this is a meeting of professional men and women, and there are students performing here and many parents watching. This particular man was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the rebel flag on the back, on which was posted the words, "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off". Oh holy night, are you serious?

What made this man think that he was wearing appropriate dress for a choral concert at his son's or daughter's local school board office? Furthermore, did wife or woman next to him not stop to say, "Honey, do you think your Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Budweiser shirt would be more appropriate?" Did the son or daughter not look at the dad and suggest another clothing option? Am I offended by the rebel flag? Kind of, yes. However, the real nail in the coffin was the tequila part.

I'm not naive. I know that not everyone lives like I do. Sometimes, though, I feel like I live in redneck hell. Now, there are people in my life that call themselves rednecks, but I would categorize them more as country boys or girls. Those that like to wear hats, drive trucks, fish on the weekends, hunt during the right seasons, etc. qualify as the latter. Stupid people doing stupid things are rednecks. Websters dictionary defines "redneck" as a "disparaging term describing a Southern rural working class citizen". Well, that would mean I'm a redneck, so I would like to redefine the term. The Mauney dictionary would say, "redneck: a term used to describe a dumb person that makes dumb choices and seems to be quite proud of it". It would have the above mentioned guy's picture next to it.

(I know, Jesus died for him too, and he may very well be the nicest guy in the world. His home may have burned to the ground, and this t-shirt may have very well been the only thing he could salvage. I do try to occasionally give people the benefit of the doubt.)

When I first moved back to South Carolina 9 years ago, I felt like I had moved to another country. It was like I fell off the face of the Earth into some alternate universe. People talked funny, they looked funny, some smelled funny, and they sure acted funny. I would go to Wal-Mart and literally have anxiety attacks because I felt like I was lost in another world. I can't remember how many times I walked away from a buggy full of groceries because I just couldn't catch my breath. It took me a long time before I could go through the aisles of my local Wal-Mart.

What helped me was talking to a self-proclaimed "yankee" one day. She told me that I could either rebel or assimilate. I chose to rebel for a long, long time, and then I decided that it would cause me less stress to assimilate. Assimilating didn't mean I had to become like all of those around me, but it did mean I had to accept where I was and who I was with. This is where it gets tricky, because I never want anyone to think that I'm saying I'm better than anyone else. I am simply different from other people, just as everyone is unique, but I had to come to grips that it was okay to be different in a very different world.

I go back to when I saw a mom pushing her kids around in the shopping cart in a local store one day. The kids were fussing, the mom seemed overwhelmed, and one of the kids was sitting on the edge of the shopping cart. The mom swung around and yelled, "Get down off that buggy!" As the words came out of her mouth, she swung her arm across the child and knocked him clean out of the buggy onto the hard floor of the store. When the child started wailing, she jerked him up by the arm and said, "Shut up and get back in this buggy." I stood watching with my mouth wide open I'm sure, and I wanted to knock her over that buggy onto the floor myself. It was all I could do not to cover my ears and run out of that store that very moment, but I just walked away shaking my head.

So I'm disturbed by the idiots I see around me, and I hurt for a world that is so lost and dying. I especially hurt for the children that are subject to such idiocy. It is no wonder at all that our kids are like they are today. Do we expect to wear a stupid t-shirt to an honorable public event and be respected by our kids and others? I now choose to be different, and while I may assimilate, I will never conform. For one thing, I will never wear a t-shirt with a rebel flag and the word "tequila" on it. For another thing, I will never backhand a child out of a shopping cart. Furthermore, I will be a country girl, but don't you dare ever call me a redneck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I am mama, hear me roar!

I never thought I would develop a personality that would allow me to speak up quite like I do, but I guess that can happen quickly when you have children. Lately, it seems like I have had to speak up for them more and more, and I certainly don't consider myself one of those protective mothers. I believe that you have to be tough in this world, and the way that you become tough is to live. Yep, simply living your life toughens you up, because this ain't Disney World, people.

Please allow me to further clarify myself.... I am not one of these parents that will be showing up at the school, talking to a teacher about my child failing a test. If one of my girls fails a test, she is responsible for that grade. I am also not one of those parents that pushes a child to succeed to a point that it is an annoyance to everyone around, including the child himself or herself. I expect my children to give their very best in whatever they do, and the best way they can learn that from me is by example. My children know when they mess up, and they don't need harsh reminders from me most of the time it happens.

Having said that, if you mess with my kids, you better look out. If you are a grown-up, BE A GROWN-UP. If you are a child, I will deal with you like I would my own child.

Let's take the child one first. I recently had an incident that happened to one of my elementary daughters. A student had picked on her in an inappropriate way, and she told me about it that afternoon when we got home. I addressed it right away, explained to her that she had to report it to the teacher immediately, and it was handled properly and swiftly. I was so impressed at how the school officials dealt with it, and I never raised my voice or lost my cool at all. I was professional and respectful, and they were just lovely to talk to. Any time I have had an issue with a child, it has been pretty simple to deal with. Working with 5th graders, I see things all the time that have to be dealt with. I try to deal with things professionally, respectfully, and properly, and I expect the same out of other adults.

This brings me to adults. I also recently had an incident that one of my children was done wrong on something. I tried to deal with it, I was made fun of by the adult in front of a group of people, and I skipped straight to the boss on that one. The boss understood my dilemma and took matters into his own hands. Unfortunately, although I attempted to make things right on my end with the original problem adult, the adult chose to not be so nice about things. I guess he's still pouting, and he's probably still bad-mouthing me to those around him. The moral of the story? Many grown-ups are worse to deal with than kids.

When I deal with an adult in any situation, I expect to be treated with respect. If I have a problem with you, I'm going to tell you, and I expect the same from you. (I haven't always been this way, but I think it's now a survival skill.) I'm not going to yell or scream at you, or if I do I will apologize quickly when the hormones have settled. I believe it is better to deal with a problem head-on, or it will come back to hit you from behind later. Apparently, not everyone believes that way, and some would just rather gossip about you or not deal with you at all.

Listen folks, if you don't have problem solving skills, you better get some real quick. The saying is that this is a dog-eat-dog world. I never really got that until I grew up and realized that the world is a tough place. I never really believed in fairy tales that much anyway, but real life teaches you real quick that it ain't all lemondrops and gumdrops. Jesus was meek, but no one ran over Him. He was kind, but He expected the same from others. He saw a lot of terrible things happen around Him, but when it came to His children, He was willing to hang on a cross for us. That's pretty much it in a nutshell, right? If we don't teach our children to speak up for themselves, who will? If we don't show them how to be kind in unkind situations, who will? If we don't love them with all we have and sacrifice for them, who will? Like I said before.... This ain't Disney World, people.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm back....

And I'm aggravated today. The more I think about it, the more aggravated I get. I'll explain in a minute...

First of all, I was gone from 5:30 Friday morning until 11:30 Friday night on a field trip. It was a great trip to Atlanta, but it sure was tiring. No time to blog that day. I got up Saturday morning at 6:30 and hit the road at 8 to drive to Statesville, NC for my sweet little niece's and nephew's 10 o'clock birthday party. It was great fun, and although I was pooped it was worth every minute of it. It's always great to get back "home" to family and friends that I grew up with. I got to see people that I haven't seen in years, and it was wonderful. The kids had a blast too. It was just a great time for all. Saturday afternoon around 6 p.m., we went to the Varners' house, party central, for a good ol' time and more shagging lessons. (Will hit that in a later blog I'm sure.) No time for blogging Saturday.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. The best gift in the world was sitting in the pew at church with Ken's arm around me and the girls lined up on my other side. As I looked over at them, I couldn't help but think of how proud I am of our beautiful family. We had lunch at home and cozied up to watch a movie, and I dozed a little on the floor. We then left to drive to Shelby, NC to visit the in-laws.

So, in conclusion, there was no time this weekend to blog. The weekend was slam packed with stuff, albeit good stuff, and I am tired today to prove it. I haven't had a day in a long time that it was difficult to get up to get to work, but today was one of those.

In light of recent events, the aggravated part has now been removed from my blog. The reason I am aggravated has now aggravated me even more. I don't think the blog is a good place to hash this one out. We'll go straight to the top to take care of business instead.

In further reference to that, make good choices, people. Be professional and be respectful. And parents, when it comes to your children, defend them when you know for a fact that it is the right thing to do.


In Jesus name,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dear Mr. President,

As I knelt for prayer this morning, I thought of you. I prayed that God would lead you in your decisions and that you would listen to Him. I prayed for Mrs. Obama and for your beautiful girls, that God will protect them and guide them as they lead a public life. I prayed that God would burden your heart for doing what is right in His eyes and not the world's eyes. I prayed that you would be man enough to stand for Godly principles, without worry about what it will do to your political career. I also prayed that God will give you time with your family, rest for your mind, and peace in your heart.

I know that it was a rumor that you "called off" the National Day of Prayer. Immediately, I knew that was ridiculous, because one man, even you Mr. President, could never call off a day of prayer. You see, as I walked into my school this morning, I was praying. I prayed for the teacher that opened the door for me. I prayed for the teachers as I passed their doorways in the hall. I prayed for students as I passed their lockers. Most likely, I will continue to pray throughout this and every day.

I didn't lead anyone astray by praying. In fact, I like to think I assist them with their day. You, Mr. President, should yourself be a prayer warrior. With all that you have to handle, I like to think that you simply fall on your knees and beg God for His mercy on this great country of ours. I can just picture you sitting down to dinner with your family, and you and Mrs. Obama holding hands with your girls around the table, bowing your heads to thank God for his many, many blessings in your life. I also like to think that if you have a heavy meeting with Heads of State that you bow your head first and simply ask God to give you wisdom. I hope that you kneel by your bed at night and thank the Lord for another day.

However, with all due respect Mr. President, I fear that you take each day for granted. I am afraid that you think that you can just handle everything. I wonder if you put your political leanings ahead of your convictions, or if you even have any Godly convictions at all. I am concerned that you and Mrs. Obama don't have the time to focus on much needed family time, and that your girls don't get to see you nearly enough. Do you assume there will be food on your table each time you sit down to eat? When you go to sleep at night, do you just take for granted that you will wake up the next morning?

When I was on my way to school this morning, I passed a park. In that park, there was a small gathering of students. They appeared to be teenagers, probably on their way to school. They were gathering near the flagpole where the great American flag always flies, and they were praying. PRAYING. They weren't rushing around to get ready, playing around in the school parking lot, or lollygagging around at home. They were gathering to PRAY. If, Mr. President, teenagers in America can take 10 minutes of their day to pray for our nation, surely you, as our leader, can take a moment each day.

Mr. President, with all due respect, don't let another day pass without hitting your knees in prayer. Our nation is hurting, with so many in pain. People are losing their jobs, their homes, and their families. Men are ending their lives because they feel hopeless being unable to support their wife and children. Women are abandoning their children because they just don't see how they can take care of them any more. People are dying of hunger every day in our country. Homeless wander the streets. Our veterans suffer with post traumatic stress disorder and never receive the help that they need or the respect they deserve. Our nation is dying, Mr. President, and if that doesn't bring you to your knees, I just can't imagine where your heart is.

This day and every day, named or unnamed, should be a day of prayer in your life and mine. Even if you are pressured politically to "cancel" the National Day of Prayer, I will be praying. I can assure you that I'm not the only one either, because those of us that are hurting and struggling just to make it in this world HAVE to depend on someone bigger than us, someone more powerful. That One is my God, and without Him I would be nothing. Jesus is the Way. He is the Answer no matter the question. Mr. President, don't you let a day go by without calling on the name of the Lord, for II Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Our land needs healing, Mr. President, and you are not the man to do it. No mortal man can. I know a God Who can though, and I beg of you to call on His name, today and every day.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just count on this....

God's plan. Much like a roadmap, God has drawn out a plan for each of us. Twists and turns, small roads and wider ones, and bumps and potholes line the way. I used to think that God had one specific plan for me, and that if I missed it I was doomed. I have now prescribed to a new way of thought, and I believe it is much more accurate...

God indeed has a plan for you, and it's the very best plan that you could ever imagine. The tricky part is, you have to maneuver through roadblocks along the way. You see, God has created an intricate plan that leaves us choices along the way. It's much like when you are driving, and you come to a crossroad. You have to look left, look right, and decide which way is the best way for you to go. I used to think if I went the wrong way, I was doomed to strife and trouble forever. I thought that God had just one plan for me and if I blew it, it was all over. The fact is, I believe He gives us choices. It's kind of like a flow map. If you choose this, you get this. If you choose that, you get that. God is still with you either way. The key to all of it is that you follow Him on either road. If He opens a door for you to do something and you already have another opportunity on the table, as long as you consider what you believe is His best, He will bless your choice. In the Experiencing God study, I learned that you look for where God is working, and you join Him there. If you see Him working in more than one place and have the chance to join Him there, you choose one and do your very best in His name.

So as Jeremiah says, God has a plan for us, a hope and a future. It's not a straight one way road, however, and you will have to make choices. Just be sure when you make that choice, you give every ounce of what you have for His Glory.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Now for the eggshells...

Since I've enlightened you about my thoughts on crumbs in the butter, I thought I would go ahead and move on to the eggshells.

Another one of my big pet peeves is discarded eggshells in the sink. You know when you're cooking, and you crack that egg, and you can't take one extra step to the trash can so you just toss it in the sink to be chopped by the disposal later? That drives me crazy. Again, and my husband says I think too much, it made me think about something deeper.

I know those eggshells were once useful. They provided a protective covering for a precious commodity. They kept out dirt and disease, and they kept in the good stuff. Once their job is done, we discard them as if they have no more use at all. Fact is, they could still be quite useful. One of the ideas I found is to of course crush them for use in composting. The shells are made mostly of calcium carbonate, and that is useful to our soil. Another use recommends putting clean, crushed eggshells in a tea stained container such as a thermos and leaving them overnight. You can then rinse it out and supposedly the tea stains will be gone. And, the suggestion is, go ahead and rinse them right down the pipes so that they can act as an abrasive to cleanse those pipes. You can also plant seedlings in eggshells, placing them right into the egg container they came in originally, and when the seedling has grown you can just crush the shell and place the entire thing in the ground, shell and all. I know you have probably also seen beautifully painted eggshells, so art is another option to discarding.

We live in such a wasteful society. We are discarding things left and right. This has recently brought about a "green" movement that is once again sweeping the nation. If I'm not mistaken, it's a similar movement to the one that swept across us when I was a child. They told us that if we didn't conserve, our children wouldn't be able to walk without stepping on trash, that our waters would be toxic or dried up, and that the very air that we breathe would be detrimental to our health. Well, here we go again with that same old song and dance. I must admit though, I'm beginning to jump on the recycle bandwagon, but not because I fear the very air I breathe may suddenly become dangerous.

America has become a disposable society. If we are done with something, we simply toss it to the side. A home isn't quite big enough, so we buy a bigger one. A car has 50,000 miles on it, and there is a new and shinier model, so we get rid of the old one. We want the latest clothes, shoes, and other material items, and we quickly devalue the previously owned ones. With the economic crisis that has recently hit us, the media is making us believe that people are looking at things differently, but are we?

Kids especially don't value things any more. Many of them take everything for granted. They think that they will get up in the morning, have a good breakfast, put on their name brand clothes, and get in Mom's SUV to go to school where they will argue over who has the coolest Silly Bands, or whatever the day's trend may be. If they only knew how fleeting it all really is, would they focus on anything more important?

Who am I kidding? Of course they wouldn't. What example are they seeing all around them? We dispose of homeless people rather than help them. We dispose of our military veterans rather than value them for the heros they are. We dispose of the elderly because they are just too much trouble to deal with and don't fit into our schedule. We dispose of unborn lives every day because they are an inconvenience in our poorly planned and irresponsible lives. Where will our children learn to value petty things if we don't even value the most important things?

Proverbs 28:25 says, "A greedy man stirs up dissention, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper." The tricky part is, God doesn't mean we will be featured on the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. He means that those who trust in the Lord will win in the end. This means we need to be content with what we have and where we are. I remember years ago Ken and I were visiting my Grandmother Birdie, and Ken said something along the lines of being happy to be there. She said, "Paul said that he learned to be content no matter what state he was in, even if it was South Carolina!" (My, how that would come back to me so many times.) The actual verse is Phillipians 4:11 in which he says to the Phillipians, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I'm in to be content." Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just be content?

I said last night to Ken, "There is a teacher at school that sure needs a car. I wish somehow God would provide one for him." Ken looked at me so funny and said, "He needs one worse that you do? Wow! His must be really bad!" I have just reached a point in my life where I figure as long as my '97 Chrysler minivan goes, I'm going in it. There is just too much wasted in America today. We waste time, we waste money, we waste water, food, and gasoline, and we even waste lives.

So, the next time you see eggshells in your sink, remember to not be wasteful. Be content with what you have, and value every single bit of it. Don't waste your life pursuing earthly things, because we are like the people Paul is talking about in Phillipians 3:19.... "Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things." O what a world this would be if we would just be content in whatever state we're in, even if it's South Carolina.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crumbs in the butter,

I can hear the torrential rain outside, and it sure makes me thankful to be inside! Today I thought I'd share where the first part of my blog title came from....

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I sit down to eat a pancake, biscuit, waffle, or other item requiring butter, and I open the butter to find crumbs. Granted, it's difficult to spread butter on toast without transferring crumbs back into the butter, but my heavens, that irks me. One day, I was lost in thought as I stared into the crumbly tub of butter, and an idea came to mind.

Our butter is full of crumbs. I mean, imagine your life as being your butter. Now look into your life, and you are going to see more than a crumb or two. Mine is full of crumbs, and sometimes there is just not a thing in the world I can humanly do about it. Now, let's go back to the literal butter.... I can take a knife to it and scrape out crumbs, but as I do I end up wasting way too much butter along with it. Wow... Do you see where I'm going?

Our lives are so full of what I sometimes call "schtuff". None of us have pure, clean butter to work with. Sins pop up every day, whether it's a quick thought or a drastic action. The Bible says that either of those is the same in God's eyes, and that sin is sin is sin. (James 2:10) Those can kind of be looked at as our crumbs. Try as we might, no matter what we do, we will never get rid of every crumb. We will never be able to have that pure, clean butter we would prefer to have. If we grab a knife to try to remove those crumbs, we are going to take some butter with us. All around us, people are trying to deal with the guilt, pain, and weight of sin in ways that is stealing minutes of their precious lives each day. Whether it's alcohol, drugs, pornography, or even just trying to stay so busy you don't have to face it, those knives are going to cut out too much butter along with the crumbs. In fact, it doesn't remove the crumbs, but it merely transfers them from one place to another. Wow again.

So how do we take care of those crumbs in the butter? If we are not able to use those knives to remove them, then what? The Good News is that butter can be purified. Here is how it happens... You heat the butter to a melting point so that it changes into a liquid state. You then can skim the crumbs, which float to the surface, right from the butter. When the butter cools, it returns to its original form, but there are no crumbs to be found.

As Christians, God purifies us by heating things up in our lives. We are melted down basically to liquid, to the point that we are dependent on Him to return us to our original form. He skims the crumbs from the surface of our lives, and then He gently cools us so that we can become what He created us to be, in our most pure form. Then He has Jesus become the filter for us, the cheesecloth for our butter, the lid for our margarine tub, and Jesus keeps us pure from all of our crumbs.

Now I do realize that we will always have sin in our lives. However, if Jesus Christ is your Savior, you should never need that butter knife again. Seeing crumbs in my butter still bothers me, but it also reminds me of Romans 3:23. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." If you have crumbs in your butter, don't you dare use that knife to get them out. You will cut out way too much of your precious life. Allow Jesus to purify that butter, and you will become what God created you to be, in your very purest form.