Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Beg to Differ

I smiled when I heard the dial-up noise in the movie "The Proposal".
I laughed when Pastor Craig made a reference to cassette players and then told us not to pretend we knew what he was talking about.
I liked walking my electric bill up to the city building.
I would rather put my tithe in that little bucket at church then hit the submit button online.
I love checking my mailbox, getting mail, and sending mail.
I enjoy time spent playing board games.
I cherish the moments that remind me of the old and not the new.

I wish kids still ran free through their neighborhoods til dusk.
I would love for my neighbor to knock on my door and ask for an egg.
I do not think I would mind rewinding and fast forwarding a tape.
It would be awesome to hear carolers in the night outside my door.
It is annoying that black Friday starts at midnight now instead of 4 AM.

I may not be very old, but I am old enough to know that I miss the slower days. While my days were probably faster than the ones my parents or grand-parents knew, I know that they are only getting faster. I hate to think what my kids will experience. My efforts to slow down are strictly personal preference and far from the norm. The world is already on fast forward and my guess is it won't be rewinding anytime soon. I do not hate all of what today has become, for a lot of it is present in my day to day life. I enjoy Internet on my phone just as much as the next person. I rarely stop for a stroll through the park. I am as guilty as they come, but I feel I have been convicted.

My plea is to return to a day when neighbors were friends and Monopoly was enough. People weren't dying for the biggest, fastest, and most expensive item on the market. This day would include time to read to your children and cook a meal from scratch. It would include watching a garden grow and holding hands in prayer. On this day people would be happy and living without debt because they're need for instant satisfaction would be no longer. Work would not be the ruler of they're lives. Families would share their time with others and work hard for what they have. Oh what a day this would be.

Technically, I am a millennial that does not value any of this.

I beg to differ.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Being an Artist is Fun

I have been doing some serious research over the last month or so. This research is all about writing. It includes reading other's writing, practicing writing, and letting my mind wander. I like what most have to say about the art of writing. You see, I have never considered myself much of an artist. I am not creative and I am horrible at creating. Some look at a blank canvas and create, others look at music notes and create. I look at something and see exactly what it is.

That is a blank canvas. Point proven.

Then there is a blank piece of paper. I see blank pieces of paper and ponder all the things I could write on that paper. I have journals at home and work just in case I ever need to just write. I love writing. I may not always be good at it or write anything worth reading, but it is freeing. Suddenly, I feel like an artist. It was not until I began doing this research though, that I realized this was art. I felt like a small child on Christmas when this hit me. I AM an artist.

Now I want to create. I want to write blogs that want to be read, I want to create entries that are engaging, and you know what, I want to write a book. Ya, that is right, a book. I read you can start with e-books that only require 30 pages. I will start with my blog and work my way up, but it is a goal. If it takes me 20 years, I will write a book. I also read that when people look for things to read they are usually looking for 1 of 3 things; education, entertainment, or inspiration. I would say that is pretty accurate. Now I just need to figure out what my form of artistry will be.

Education requires facts. Black and white information. I suppose it could be grey, but then it is probably not education material.

Entertainment requires being funny and well...God didn't exactly equip me right for that. I could probably try, but I might fail if that is my sole purpose.

Inspiration is fun, but everyone likes being inspired in different ways. I may not inspire in a way that attracts readers.

You can see my dilemma. I suppose I will continue wandering until I find my niche. It is right around the corner. I just know it. I need your help though.

What is your favorite reading material and why?

p.s. don't forget about my new blog project coming soon! I guess you could consider it my 1st writing exploration project. So, what I am trying to say is be sure to come back!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Perfect Timing

This weekend Zeb and I headed to Liberal, Kansas for Thanksgiving. Many of you may not know this, but Liberal is a special place for us. Liberal, Kansas is what initially bonded Zeb and I. In our very first conversation ever I asked Zeb where he was from and he about blew me out of my seat (I am not sure I was sitting, but you get the idea) when he said Liberal. This is a very small town in the very southwest corner of Kansas and it just happens to be where I was born. You can see why I was surprised. God planned that and it makes me smile.

So, we went to Liberal and spent the weekend with Zeb's family, my Grandma, Aunt, and little cousin. It was fun, filling, and completely relaxing. We played games as we normally do, ate lots of food, enjoyed various bottles of wine, and shared recent happenings in each other's lives. I cherish these moments probably more than I show, but they really are so precious to me.

On the way back I decided to take over driving the last half to allow Zeb to sleep and this is when I got lost in my thoughts. I remember driving to Liberal for the first time from Stillwater. I loved this drive now just as much as I did then. The scenery on that drive would not be much to most that drive it, but to me it is so special. I love the farms, ranches, animal life, green grass that Zeb informed me is wheat, and the open land. I love how simple it looks and feels. I am thankful for that drive and the places it takes me in my mind.

I will tell you what I am not thankful for and that is the wild cat we hit shortly after getting out of Liberal. Zeb tried to miss it, but it did not happen. I was completely traumatized. I buried my face in my hands and broke into tears. Zeb was so sweet in the way he tried to comfort me. He said, "Babe don't cry. It was a wild cat. It would have probably bit you if you tried to pet it anyway." He really has a way of making situations better. ;)

Finally, I have a blog project coming December 1st. I will give you more details later, but it is something I have been working on over the past week. I am not sure how you will like it or what it will end up being like, but I am excited about it. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today marks 26 years that my parents have been married. I love them for that. In a society where divorce is the norm and faithfulness is hard to come by, they have stayed true their love for one another. I am sure it has not been easy and I bet there were definitely times when one or both wanted to walk away, but they have truly stuck by their "for better or for worse" promise.

I remember in high school being one of very few with parents that were still married. I also remember being criticized for this. At the time I just brushed it off, but now I stand proud.

Yes, my parents are still married. Yes, it has been 26 years. Yes, they love each other just as much, if not more, today than they did on this day 26 years ago. I know, it is crazy. I know, it is hard to believe. I know, it is awesome.

Thank you Daddy and Mommy (yes I still call my parents this) for showing me that love does last.
Thank you for teaching me that being faithful to your spouse is important.
Thank you for standing by one another in everything, and I mean everything, you do.
Thank you for raising 3 girls that are not only sisters, but best friends.
Thank you for teaching us the importance of family.
Thank you for your work ethic and morals that you have ingrained in us.
Thank you for being committed to eachother.
Thank you for being my parents.

I love you guys so much and I hope your 26th anniversary is perfect.

Love always,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Wal-Mart Experience

Yesterday I witnessed something so precious. Now, I realize that I may be the only one that finds it so wonderful because when I told Zeb he just looked at me with a puzzled expression, but nonetheless that single interaction changed my whole attitude.

As I was leaving Wal-Mart I glanced over at the little old lady that works as the greeter. This woman is there just about every time I go to Wal-Mart. Morning, night, Sunday, Thursday...you name it she is probably there. She never lets me down. She smiles and asks how I am doing everytime I walk in and waves goodbye everytime I leave. Only this time she did not say goodbye. I looked over at her expecting it and that is when I got to see the interaction between her and an old man. She said hello as she always does and then proceeded to ask how he was doing.

Before I go any further, I just want to embarrassingly admit that 99% of the time I do not even think before answering that question. No matter how I am actually doing, there is a response already ingrained in my head...Good. That is always my response. I continue on in my tunnel focused on where it is I am going and what I am needing.

At that moment, the man reached over and warmly, with a smile and all, patted the lady on her back and responded with, "I woke up this morning, so I guess that's pretty good!" And there it was, my face lit up. I loved witnessing that. I can't quite explain why. Maybe it was the appreciation for life in that sentence, maybe it was the time taken to pat her on the back, maybe it was the smile, or maybe it was just the fact that his answer wasn't the standard "good" that we all say time and time again. I adore that man for his response. It was optimism at its best and that is powerful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Books, Books, and more Books

I spent the weekend spread between three books and the Bible. I know many of my posts lately have been on the topic of reading, but I guess it is just that season for me. Not to mention, I was really excited about having my first weekend since August without a single place that I HAD to be. Therefore, between reading, laundry, cleaning, exercising, and church I would say it was a GREAT weekend! Zeb and I also got to cook out with my soon to be brother in-law and his amazing girlfriend Katy, who just happens to be one of my bridesmaids, on Saturday evening which was so fun! Anyway, back to the books.

Book 1-The Volunteer Revolution

This book is great because it talks about volunteerism. If I could be a full time volunteer, you better believe I would. I am not sure why I was given such a servant's heart, but I was and I embrace it. The thing I like about this book is it talks about how to get others to embrace the volunteer in them. You see, everyone wants to do something more besides work and give their time freely or so I like to think. This book likes to think that too and that is why I like it.

Book 2-Confessions of a Pastor

I picked this book up a couple weeks ago at my church. They had their annual volunteer appreciation event and were handing out free stuff. I already have all of Pastor Craig's other books so I decided to grab this one. I love how transparent and vulnerable Craig is in this book. In this book he confesses various struggles in his life. He shows everyday readers how everyday and normal he actually is. It is a quick and easy read.
Book 3-Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Re-visited

This is the book that comes with the Financial Peace University kit. It is hard, challenging, refreshing, and scary all in one. Dave challenges readers to break free from the bondage of debt with practical steps. The catch is, you have to be willing to stop living like majority of Americans. You have to stop consuming more than you can afford. You have to put limits in your life. You have to say enough is enough. Most importantly, when you are heavily in debt you have to be willing to take drastic steps that seem crazy to everyone else in order to pull out. He promises though, that only when you are willing to live like no one else will you then be able to live like no one else. I am so looking forward to that. The best part is his story. He is not teaching this from research, he is teaching it from experience. He went bankrupt at 30 with a wife and 4 kids. He changed his life and now he is helping millions of others do the same. Thanks Dave.

Book 4-The Bible

I started the Gospels this weekend. The book of Matthew is beautiful. I also started a reading plan on Youversion.com. It is a 1-month Christmas reading plan that re-defines Christmas. This will force me to be in the Word everyday. I know this should be easy, but it just is not. I get caught up in other books (see above) and everyday life. I get lost in my all about me syndrome and forget that this life is not all about me at all. Thanks YouVersion for providing such valuable resources.

Finally, I decided this weekend what my end goal is in my career life. I want to own a bookstore. It will include lots of comfy spots for people to plop down and read. It will most definitely have a coffee shop. It will probably include a kids reading section. But most importantly, it will allow for me to create a community around things I love. I envision it to be a place my family can hang out at, my employees will be engaging, and my customers will be friends. I know I have entertained my closest loved ones with lots of career plans in my adult life, but this is the one I hope sticks. And until then...I will just keep reading.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Beauty in 26 Letters

I have a love-hate relationship with reading. It is more of a love rather than hate. Like, the only time I really hate reading is when I am too tired to continue reading and I hate to stop. :) Reading brings out something different in me. I can not quite explain it, but I will do my best for the purpose of helping you understand.

I really love non-fiction. I love non-fiction because of its aunthenticity. There is something special about reading a book about something, someone, or some event that really happened. It may be the strong empathy inside of me, but I just really find joy in connecting with the character of the book who is actually not a character at all. They are a real person with a very real story that was worth sharing with the rest of the world. It is fascinating.

I love reading blogs. Again, I think it has so much to do with the authentic piece of it, but nonethless it is a favorite. It is easy to get lost in this world feeling not good enough and troubled. When you read about the lives of others through a source that they purposely put out there for others to read it is humanizing. It makes me realize that I am human and not the only one facing the trials of society. It is also inspiring and uplifting to read the success stories of other. I love reading the things that work in other people's lives. Maybe I am just nosy, but I would like to think it is fairly normal to enjoy this type of reading material.

My goal is to read more over the next couple of months. It expands my mind and challenges me in different ways than the day to day tasks. I would love for suggestions.

What are you reading?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not God's Type

This is the book that consumed me last week. It is a short book and rather easy to read. It tells the story of a woman who came to know God as an adult. A woman who is a liberal, feminist. A woman who is a rational thinker. A woman with her Ph D. and a professor. A woman who was an atheist all her life, until the age of 31 when God revealed Himself to her through rational Truth. A woman who now lives as a walking testimony of how God worked in her life that was unique to her needs because he knew her so well to know what it would take.

I was drawn to this book while at the Stillwater Public Library last Monday for the first time. I wanted to find a new book to read and truth be told I can't afford Hastings anymore, so the library was the next best option. As a fairly new Christian myself I am intrigued by the stories of other Christians. I love to learn about the stories of God's grace and mercy in people's lives. This book was immediately appealing to me when I read the back cover. The reason is, in my quest to know God deeper and more intimately, I think it is helpful to know what it was about others that drew them to God.

I am not even close to being a rationalist. Rational thinking is so far off my radar. In fact most of the time, I will not tell you what I think about something. Instead, I will tell you how I feel about something. In general, this means that any decision or thought I have is usually made with emotion rather than logic thought. I came to Christ at an emotional time in my life. I was hurt and broken. I felt empty and needed something to fill the hole. I was drawn to Christ through my feelings.

However, in this book, Holly was not drawn to God through an emotional circumstance in her life. Holly wanted someone to show her that it made sense that God was real. She wanted someone to show her the truth through rational explanations. It was through this curiosity that God so beautifully showed Himself to Holly. He knew it wouldn't take dragging her to the pit. He knew that warm-fuzzy miracles were not convincing enough for her. He knew that she just needed the black and white facts of who He was. When she was able to work through the research, the experiments, the pros, and the cons at her pace she was able to see her Savior.

It is a beautiful story. In more ways than one this book just made me fall more in love with Jesus. I will leave you with one conversation between Holly and her Fencing coach from this book that will forever stick with me.

"Ok," I said. "You believe in God. I don't. When I die, what do you think is going to happen to me?"

He said, "I'd rather not answer that question."
I was surprised-and I recognized that I was getting more respect than I probably deserved: he'd prefer to say nothing rather than water down his response to make it more palatable for me. Suddenly I realized that I genuinely did want to hear the answer.
"No, really, I want to know what you think."

"Well," he said, "I believe that we will come before God in judgement, and He will give each person either perfect justice, or perfect mercy."

I sat in silence thinking about this for a moment. Slowly, I said, "And you believe that it would be better for me to know enough, beforehand, to ask for perfect mercy?"

"Yes, I do."