Monday, December 30, 2013

outlook 2014 (dpp [day 30])



My pick from all the things I saw while shopping in Nashville has found a new home on a wall where I will see it many times a day.  Love the metal artwork...love the concept.  Bring on 2014!

when the past comes back to bless you

Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”
He answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
“You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-28

2013...the year of surprises. 
Some good. 
Some not so much.
I have always been one who believes there is a reason for everything.  The blessings and curses of this imperfect world on my life have purpose.  I have good reason to believe such...The KJV says it most poetically...
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1
The timing of God is a fascinating mystery to me.  I refer to it as a mystery because my finite brain will never grasp the awesomeness of it this side of Heaven.  Just like "the red thread" idea of Jesus being seen woven throughout the Bible, binding God's Word together, I see the evidence of God's timing strategically threading people and events throughout my life to bring me to a place and time of learning, finding encouragement, and/or hearing from Him in ways not fashionable by me or anyone else.  
As I come to the end of this year of surprises, this is for certain:  God has been at work, He is at work, and He continues to be at work.
How do I know?  
When two people from my past, whom I both know, but they do not know each other, with similar (yet very different) life paths walk back into my life about the same time this summer, carrying the same message with them, I know. 
Without a doubt, I know.
Earlier this spring, I whispered a prayer to God, again..."Help, me. Please..." I was tired of being tired and out of breath just taking a walk.  I wanted to feel healthy inside and out. I did not want to want the sugary, sweet things that I love to make to have a hold of me any longer.  I wanted to enjoy a bite and yet be able to walk away after that one bite satisfied. (This topic on my lifetime struggle with weight is another whole post still in the draft stage...stay tuned.)  By July, I had begun to see some amazing things happening as a result of hard work and determination, but I did not know how to continue them and make them a lifestyle.  I had reached a plateau...a nice, improved plateau, but I wanted more.  Only, this time, it was a desire for more good.
Here's where God really shows up and off.  
Kristine, my locker neighbor all four years of high school and now a wife, mom, fitness guru, Shakeology drinker, and BeachBody coach, began passionately posting on fb this year. Having been fb friends for a little while already, I saw the transition from the normal life events and photos to the passionate, encouraging, uplifting, believable, real posts of a woman with a mission.  They leapt off the screen at me each time.  Her words followed me around all day, lingering in my head.  
**A little history here...Kristine and I were locker neighbors...not best friends.  She was the nicest popular, "in" crowd person you could ever meet in a small town high school.  I was far from the "in" crowd status.  I was lucky she was so nice to me all those years.  She could have made life tough on me, but she did not.  I am grateful.**
Those posts led me to choose to take on a challenge of hers in August: 100 push ups and 100 squats every day for 30 days.  That challenge transformed my thinking, and, therefore, my life.  Two things I have always hated in life, make that three...running, sit ups, and push ups.  Anyone who was overweight as a child/teenager, knows why.  I had not attempted a push up in years.  YEARS, people.  Now all of a sudden I am going to be doing 100 a day for an entire month.  
Let me tell you, I was on the floor, in prayer, that first day.  I just hoped I could make it through the first day without failure.  I made all 100 by the end of the day.  I realized that my work in the gym, both aeorbic exercise and weight training, had made me stronger than I knew.  (The squats hurt like nobody's business, though, but I got those in, too.)  
My brain finally caught up with what my body already knew after a year+ of going to the Y on a regular basis. I was no longer the same person.  I was stronger.  I do have what it takes to change.  I can do this and feel good, content, and satisfied.   
Kristine's story has many facets.  It is hers to tell.  All I will divulge here is that, like anyone, she has struggles she faces everyday.  She chooses to face them, work through them, and be real about them.  Her walk and talk match.  Her story inspires.  Her encouragement and passion are shared generously and extravagantly.
I am grateful.
Oh, but God was not finished showing up and off yet.  
Probably because He knows me so well, he surprised me in September with another blast from the past carrying the same message.  
After a weekend reuniting with friends from college, I get a fb friend request from Shawn. "He must have seen a photo in which I was with other fb friends of his," I told myself, not knowing anything about Shawn's life since I knew him (gasp!) 20 years ago as the nice, quiet, guy with a shaved head lots of muscles that I passed on campus and watched play intramural football.  Like with Kristine: same campus, different worlds. Actually, he even remotely remembering me was more surprising than getting the friend request.  
Come to find out, Shawn is now the same nice guy with a shaved head and lots of muscles...but with National and World records in powerlifting to go along with them.  His story, too, is his to tell, but it is definitely one I have come to appreciate and be encouraged by as I am on my own journey this year.  His methods of encouragement and real-ness (for today that is an actual word, in case you were wondering) are as inspiring as those of Kristine's, and just as believable, although he may have an intimidation factor going for him as well.  If you saw the size of those aforementioned muscles you would understand.  While Kristine's words follow me around and talk me through a tough day when I want to do nothing, just knowing that Shawn could knock me down with a finger pushes me through the tough days (and that's most every day).  Even more than intimidated, though, I am grateful.  :)
God has used people from my past to bless me.  I am no longer just inspired by their lives to become healthier, make wise choices, to live intentionally...I am inspired to tell my story, too, in hopes that the real-ness of it may, in turn, inspire someone else who hears/reads it.

***Although, I have let both Kristine and Shawn approve this post, this is my own post, in my own words.  I am not receiving any compensation for anything I have written.***

dpp [day 29]

  Cousins...
   Such a fun time we had in Nashville with my sister, bro-in-law, nieces, and nephew!  It was a beautiful morning, so after breakfast we took the shuttle over to the Parthenon.
Still becoming friends with my new camera.  Sometimes it's frustrating to know what I want to capture and how I want to capture it, but not know for sure how to do that just yet.
Although it was a nice day, one of my many challenges in the winter is taking photos outside when I am cold. Shivering and camera focusing do not work well together.  I found one I liked well enough to post here.
   

Sunday, December 29, 2013

dpp [day 28]

Roadtripped it to Nashville to spend the day with family.

  Spied a treasure in the window of an antique store.  It's mine now. :)

  Tried to get into two recommended restaurants, but both had 2+ hours wait. Found the Back Alley Diner less than a block away from where we were downtown via a "local" app, and walked right in, was seated immediately, and enjoyed the best food in the entire city. Including bacon wrapped, whipped cream cheese stuffed, jalepenos...a.maz.ing!

Friday, December 27, 2013

randomness (dpp [day 27])

   
Anyone else see E.T. hiding in this bucket of randomness?

   

   

   

Had fun exploring the warehouse from behind the camera lens today. The more I practice the better I will become...I hope.

dpp [day 26]



I love Christmas lights.  Multi-colored.  Non-LED.  Yes, there is a huge difference between the old and newer light strands, as I have become well aware of this year.  Oh, how well I know.
Every year it seems that the urge to decorate hits a little earlier.  We travel to Indiana for Thanksgiving, so my home is not required to look the part for Thanksgiving.  I know the voices are many about giving Thanksgiving its rightful position as a holiday inbetween October 31st and December 25th.  I pull out my ceramic serving plate on which the boys' handprints are turkeys, place it on the bar, cover it with goodies to share, and feel at peace in my heart that I have paid homage to T-Day.  If there happens to be stockings hung by the fireplace and a tree in the corner of the room at the same time, I do not think the plate minds sharing the space.  Just sayin'.
This fall was a little different than my norm.  While I should have been toting and unpacking Christmas boxes and running a gazillion errands for working lights, purchasing little Christmas extras for the new house, and baking holiday treats ahead of time, I was running to doctor appointments, making more appointments over the phone, or having and then recuperating from surgery.
Prior to surgery, I let myself give in to those voices saying to wait on the tree going up.  I brought out a few things and waited on others.  No lights went up before surgery or Thanksgiving.
Huge mistake.
My ideal of awesomeness come December 1st, is to be able to sit and enjoy the twinkling Christmas lights, a mug of hot cocoa in hand.  Soft glow, happy faces, warm fuzzies.  None of this "Let's get this up so we can enjoy it....Oh, wait, those lights no longer work...Guess I will have to go to town and get more tomorrow." kind of nonsense.
Recovery from my lumpectomy was quicker and less painful than getting the lights up and working this year. I was frustrated with myself for not going with what works for us.  I vowed to never again wait.  I missed almost 8 full days of December bliss.
Yesterday evening, playing around with the settings on my new camera, I thoroughly enjoyed that bliss.  The view from my chair...

 

Joy and peace abound now where frustration and chaos once lived.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

   
When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.  Luke 2:15-20
Daily...
Find Jesus.
Share His Gospel with others.
Be amazed at His works.
Treasure in our hearts all we hear/see of Him.
Return glory and praise to God.

December Photo Project 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

pumpkin pie & sunshine (dpp [day 24])

  

It was a merry Christmas Eve for me.  An unspeakable joy has surrounded me all the day long.  I cannot put into words, just yet, all that has been going on inside this mind of mine lately.  Not that I do not want to, but rather, the words just will not come.  Whenever they do, I know it will be from God, in His time.  No one is more ready than I am for that post to come to pass.  It is going to be good; because He is good...no matter what.  Until then, I will wish you a Merry Christmas and eat another piece of pie (and do my 100 push-ups so I do not feel guilty about the pie).

December Photo Project 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

dpp [day 23]

Had a little visitor in the classroom today...
  
Hope it finds its way out...we are now officially on Christmas vacation...for a few days.  Our theory...why vacation on cold, icky days when we can enjoy the time off later when it's nice outside or when we go somewhere where it's nice outside.  Merry Christmas Eve!

December Photo Project 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

more catching up... (dpp [day 22])

For an IG photo challenge, I was to capture a photo of a star for day 22.  My favorite star came from the white elephant gift I was blessed to take home last year from our Sunday School Christmas party.  Love the homemade clear bead and safety pin Christmas tree no one stole from me, especially the star on top...

  

An otherwise awesome day, spent with family and church family celebrating Christmas together, Tim and I wrapped up our evening playing his new game, Clash Alley...I was Raphael and I lost.

  


December Photo Project 2013

playing catch up today (dpp [day 21])

The only thing making if feel like Christmas today was wearing my favorite Christmas socks.  I think our thermometer topped out at 73° today.  Warm, windy, with intermittent rain.  This is Winter Solstice 2013 in GA...not bad, not bad at all.  I will take any warm weather day in the winter that comes my way and embrace it lovingly!
  
As for how I spent the first day of winter...after a morning cleaning house, laundry, and dishes...I went to see my therapist hair stylist for a long, overdue haircut.  Met a friend to browse through the Dollar Tree with me because I needed more gift tags and ribbon.  Made it out of the store for with only 12 items...not bad since I haven't been there in about a year.
This is where it gets really good...
My workout for the day...stacking this:

                  

Cool down...a walk in the woods...looking for mistletoe, but discovering Christmas tree future...

                   

and Christmas tree past...
  

before finding my mistletoe...

                  
Unless we shoot it out of the tree, getting kissed under this mistletoe is going to require some walking to get there first. :)
Winter, you're arrival has been kind.  I thank you!  Longer daylight ahead with promise of Spring to come. December Photo Project 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

dpp [day 20]

One 10 year old is going to be happy on Christmas Day! Shhh!!! Please, don't tell him...or the surprise will be lost. Thanks!
   A selfie of the wrapping elves...
  

December Photo Project 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

dpp [day 13] comfort & joy

For the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places,
and He will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and melodious song.
Isaiah 51:3

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December Photo Project 2013

dpp [day12]

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December Photo Project 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

dpp [day 11]

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December Photo Project 2013

dpp [day 10]

As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.
Proverbs 27:19
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December Photo Project 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

dpp [day 8] & [day 9]

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Had to make a Peace on Earth to go with the Joy to the World. :)

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The Fam ♥


December Photo Project 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

dpp [day 6]

Look at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds high above you.
Job 35:5

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

dpp [day 5]: reward

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Tonight, as I finished up a task off my to do list, all I could think about was the Blue Bell ice cream I had purchased a few hours earlier while grocery shopping {another item that I marked off my list today. :)}
As I scooped it into my bowl, I saw the candy canes...then the Hershey Kisses...and this is what came to be.
My own version of my favorite Christmas season treat.
A reward.
For having a great post-op appointment.
For getting back to the Y, full routine and all.
For finishing up the Christmas decorating.
It was tasty.

December Photo Project 2013

dpp [day 4]: Joy to the World

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.   Luke 2:9-11
joy2world

I was inspired by a photo on Instagram to make our own Joy to the World banner for the classroom.  I love it!  A great reminder of the Good News of Christmas for everyone.


December Photo Project 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

dpp [day 3]

For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus.  Romans 15:4-5
 A rainy day spent in a quaint part of town with a friend...and a hot cocoa, so pretty, I had to take a picture.

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Catching up with my friend, Jackie, was so wonderful today! We met back in 1990 at Bible Memory Camp.  I remember that year...I was a senior and she was a freshman.  I am not really for sure how much we got to know each other that year, but as time went on and we both continued serving with BMC, our paths crossed time and again.  We both traveled all summer long with BMC, differing summers, but it was around that time that our friendship fell into the "lifetime" category.
Jackie is an amazing woman.  So intelligent, studious...personable, endearing...lover of laughter and sugar packets...(Yeah, there's a story there.)...traveler of the world and admirer of all things orange.
She warms my heart and encourages my spirit.  Everyone should be so blessed to have a friend like her . ♥

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*photo credit goes to Jackie* My phone died, but she saved the day with hers. :)


December Photo Project 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

dpp [day 2]

"For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."  Deuteronomy 20:4
A very important day for me today.  My post-op appointment was this morning.  My doctor was very excited to tell me that I passed my pathology lab with flying colors...meaning that clear margins surrounded the lump removed during surgery.  It was confirmed that I am indeed free of any known breast cancer.
Another important issue discussed were restrictions.  As of this morning, I was free to do anything that does not hurt me.
Although tempted to celebrate with a peppermint chocolate chip milkshake, I went to the Y instead...

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And it was sweeter than that milkshake could have ever been.



December Photo Project 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's that time of the year again...

Time to dust off the camera for the December Photo Project.
{but today's dpp shot was captured with my phone :)}

Out of all of our Christmas trees this one is my favorite...

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December Photo Project 2013