Monday, December 31, 2012

A.I.M. High 2013

Ahh the new year. I can already feel the anticipation as I type this.  Apparently I'm overwhelmed by the anticipation because, I am already sitting in bed, lights out, and typing this quickly, and in moments will be flipping my laptop closed.

Every "New Year's Eve" is different for me. I have yet to establish a pattern, although it generally does involve me staying up until at least midnight, but what is life without change!! Sitting in the final moments of 2012 (I'm CST- So technically I have an hour and 8 mins) and reviewing the year I actually can understand why I am ready for sleep so "early." 2012 was tumultuous.  (Before I claim that word as my own, that was the word my mom actually used.) She then followed it up and said at the same time, we were greatly blessed.  It is true. This year of stress, and struggle, and weariness.... God also poured out his blessings.

In the last year I think I grew in ways I never thought possible. I've learned more about myself than ever before.  I accomplished goals I had wanted to for quite a while.  I went on trips, (learned that I'm not as good at driving long distances alone anymore- How on earth did I do drive so far while in college? With no cell phones!?) I made new friends, and old acquaintances became like family.  I found that the more I love, the more I have to give.

I bought a guitar, (Lessons to come), found a craft cabinet, figured out the sewing thing (Thank you Mrs. Gleim), learned that I love making things, sending emails, finding recipes, watching movies, laughing til I literally can't stand anymore, watching  Duck Dynasty, taking pictures, and that while I am totally a Hunter, I'm a Davis too.

This year I mastered mashed potatoes, worked on my pancakes, and dumplin's, and found that no matter the project, I tend to have the remains somewhere attached. (Tonight that means primer on my palms, but there's been syrup on my pants and hot glue on my arm.)

There were challenges.  My Daddio- (Kilo as we have tried to name him) gave us some scares as he took up vacationing in the "vacation home" in the local hospital... several times throughout the year.  Friends and families of friends have been sick. There have been tests, and hearing aids (okay, just one), accidents and sorrows that are too old to be soothed by band-aids.  Massive tragedies have wreaked havoc on our country and on our world, and we will never be the same.

My highest most important challenge for myself in 2013 is to remember to rely on God.  He was there through all of it.  Every bit.  Stephanie if He was there, WHERE was He?  Why didn't He do something?  We can ask.  We can type out and hash out and explain our theories, and our understandings, and it will never ever ever make sense. What I can tell you is that in the hardest moments, when things were most confusing,  when I would cry out to God with literally just a word, or a plea for help, He would answer with a blanket of peace. Imagine yourself comforted and warmed in such a way that your soul felt at peace.  Explain it? I cannot.  Accept it? I will.

I am messy. I do not do it "right." I am not always the best example. But, I will apologize and mean it when I am cross (or, when I wave my hand to shoo some of my employees away) or when I give you my cranky angry face. That is the beauty of the God I know.  He takes me just as I am. He doesn't give up on me. He loves me at my worst and ugliest.  He feels the same about you.

2013 is looming ahead.  I am excited. I am declaring that it will be a Year of Change. A Year of Growth. A Year to Be Proud Of.  It's gonna rock.

And you can take that to the bank, Jack.

See you in 2013.
Love to you all,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Letting Yourself Go, and the Peace that Comes With

Um. That should read letting  IT go.

It was almost a year ago (in three days it'll be a year) that everything became different for me.  That day there was no big event. It was actually just a Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Life had turned radically different that year, and nevermind the reason, the reality that life was going to be different and not what I wanted circled around me, choking me, almost drowning me. 

The thing about holding on is that it causes more pain than the surrender.  Holding on to hurts, and pains, only causes inward damage.  Letting go of it, allows God to come in and replace the it with something more beautiful. The other thing is that God does not force anyone to surrender.  A true friend, someone who totally loves you, waits for you to take the first step.  The rest is easy.

On November 28, 2011, I let go.  It's been all uphill (or downhill? whatever is better) since.  
The thing with surrender, is the moment you do, you find the peace that come with. 

I can attest to  the fact that in that almost whole year from that day to now, I have never been the same, and only getting better from here!

*The Shepherd and the Treasure
The shepherd was known to everyone in the town. The animals loved him, but so did the people. He was quiet and kind. He did not speak harshly. Even when someone was wrong, he would make it right. He would wrap his arms around him or her, and in his quiet, gentle way calm the storm.
A little girl lived in the town. Quiet and peaceful. 
The little girl was stubborn. And, she was smart, but always underlying the "smart" was the stubborn. The fierceness and fieriness that comes when you are determined to do whatever it is you want to do. "I do it myself," she would say, and she would snatch her hand away, from the larger one offering assistance. 
As she was playing outside one day, she came across a treasure. Never-mind the type of treasure, what it was, just know that it was a treasure. It was small, and it fit in the palm of her hand. It was sparkly and the most beautiful color. She knew immediately upon picking it up that she would never let it go. It would be with her always. 
The shepherd saw her with the treasure, and he knew what she did not. He came beside her, and offered her a different treasure in place of the one she gripped so tightly. She would smile up at his kind face and say, No thank you shepherd. I have my own. He would smile, and pat her on the head and walk on. 
What the shepherd knew, is what the little girl did not notice. That the treasure slowed her down. She still would play and sing and dance, but she moved slower, sang softer, danced less frequently. It was difficult, holding her treasure in her hand, and trying to move throughout the day. However, it was hers, and she could not put it down. Occasionally, as she was playing, she would feel a slight pain shooting through her hand and up her arm. She would examine the treasure, and sigh. Her treasure, though beautiful, had a sharp, cutting edge. Often as her treasure cut into her hand she would think about putting her treasure away, setting it aside, but she would shake her head no, and grip it more tightly. A treasure, after all, was worth the pain. 
The shepherd would come by frequently, more and more often. Always with the same question, and she offered the same response.
The day came, however, when the pain in her hand could not be tolerated any longer. There was no playing. No singing. No dancing. Only silence. The little girl would sit with her arms crossed, gripping the treasure tightly. Her hand had begun to bleed. It was slow at first, but the sharp edge cut, and day after day it cut into the same wound that was trying to heal from her grip the day before. She loved her treasure. It was inexplicable the way she felt. The thought of setting her treasure down caused her more pain than the pain in her hand. Her mom and dad were wise. They would encourage her to put it down. She would shake her head, no. Her friends were kind, we'll take it from you, we will help you. She would walk away. 
The shepherd would come by, and ask. Crying even still, she would look at him and say, "No shepherd. I love my treasure." 
One morning, the little girl awoke. The day was no different than the day before. The sky was a gray, the pale gray that comes in the fall. Inside, however, the girl knew it was time. She needed to be free. She stood up. Put on her best dress and her shiny shoes, and walked outside and down a long path and to the river. She knew who she would find there, waiting for her, and she was right. The shepherd stood by the river, his eyes soft, his lips smiling. 
She opened her hand, and with her other she grasped the treasure. She held it to the light, and examined it one last time. It was still beautiful, but instead of admiring the shine, she saw the edge. The sharp, and cutting edge. It was time. She walked to the shepherd, and stood beside him. He stretched out his hand, asking for her treasure, and she handed it to him. With her at his side, they walked to the edge and let the treasure fall into the water. The water swallowed her treasure whole, and swept it away.
The little girl sat right where she had stood, and cried sobbing tears. All the pain and frustration running down her face, and pouring out of heart. The shepherd sat down beside her, patting her head. Saying nothing, but waiting. 
She opened her hand, and they stared at her wound. The deep, long cut that the treasure had made. He traced the wound with his finger. He then reached in to his satchel, and pulled out a different treasure. He held it to her, and this time she took it. It was magnificent, of the deepest, purest color. The light shined off it's surface. She smiled, and could hardly speak. This treasure was exquisite. Far outweighing the beauty of her old treasure. And it was smooth. No violent edges, nothing that would cause pain. "Oh it's beautiful," she whispered, and she tried to hand it back to him.
The shepherd smiled at her softly, and said, "Didn't you know? I've had this the whole time, just for you."
The little girl cried again. Not out of pain, but joy and peace.
Then, she started to dance.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Doing Everything Wrong- the Right Way.... Wait, what?

 Still being at home, Indiana home, my memory always circles backs around to the growing up days.  Most days I still feel like I'm in the process of growing up. (Let's be honest though, I stopped growing in 6th grade.  Too bad the tall kid go the lower locker in high school. He would bash me in the head at least once a week.  Northridge kids will know the lockers I'm talkin' about!)

Despite the fact that I am technically grown now, I am always in the process of learning, and relearning and giving it ago again.  A few years ago (four to be exact) I wrote a post, and I decided that I would re-post it.
*The Purple Pants and a Well Worn Sweater*
Oh yes, it was my favorite outfit through my freshman year in high school. The pants were purple. There was this faint black patterny design- so light that by the time I got rid of the pants, the black design was no longer visible. The sweater was red- yes red- with patterns of black, green and purple. The purple in the sweater is what tied the whole outfit together- well, in my mind at least. The beauty of those purple pants- they were very versatile. If I needed to dress down I had another shirt- horizontal stripes of gray, pink, blue and purple. In addition the versatility, these pants were extremely comfortable! Nothing like perfection!

How funny is it, that there are certain things we pick out in our mind as "perfect" and then later we realize that whatever it was, wasn't so perfect after all.  Because the Lord has always been gracious and kind to me, I have no pictures of myself in that particular outfit.  (And, if I find any, they will be destroyed. If anyone else has pictures, please do the same!)

I have decided that I am really good at perfecting imperfection. Oh, the glory of being human. The messes we make in our life on a daily basis; from ordering a burger instead of the Quesadilla Explosion Salad (I recently experienced this), to, of course, wearing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, thinking the wrong thing...I could go on and on. Point being, I have experienced the imperfection that comes with day to day living.  It never quite fails that at the same time that I'm working so hard to do whatever is right, I am perfecting all that is wrong.

In thinking about my desire to be perfect. It is difficult to say the least. (Okay, it's impossible.) I try though. I try to please everyone: my friends, my family, my coworkers, my boss. And then what's funny is sometimes I forget to look to please the one person who really counts- God. It's hard to please everyone at the same time. Especially, when you have people who have conflicting ideas and opinions. God, however, is always consistent in His direction.

Way back in 2008, my friend Jenilee also wrote about a similar topic. That week she talked about Galatians 6. In the last paragraph of that particular post, she wrote, "It isn't easy doing good. It isn't easy to examine every moment of the day to see if it is "keeping in step with the Spirit." But, it is worth it. It is what we, Spirit-filled followers of Christ, are called to do. We won't be perfect... we will continue to make mistakes... but we have to try..."

Tonight, my mom and I put together a shelf, which happened to be the first shelf I have ever done. Things were going well, until almost near the end, when we had to take apart and do over.  What we had done, we had done really well, but almost right, isn't.  The purple pants from high school, and the sweater, and the horizontal striped shirt are long gone. In their place I have found other substitutes. There are still days that I get home, (Illinois home, apartment with Blanche home) and I quick look in the mirror, and I realize my great outfit for the day was a miss. That is the great thing about tomorrow.  I have the opportunity to work at it again. It is my hope that as I continue living day to day, I will continue to learn more about God, and I will become more of who He wants me to be. If only being perfect was as easy as changing a wardrobe. Unfortunately it's not. The good side, being dressed in an attitude that comes from God is free!

Thankful for the days I do get it right, and for those days when my pants aren't inside out,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sticky Fingers with Patience as an Appetizer

Pancakes, just like a lot of things in life, take patience.  I have little to none, at least when it comes to waiting.

A few weeks ago I had visions of my Ma's perfect pancakes, along with the world's greatest syrup. (Blackburns).  Saturday mornings were always extra special mornings when my mum would go into the kitchen, and whip up her magic.  Like mashed potatoes, or potato salad (or anything potato-ish), pancakes are total comfort food. 

Some of you may know, but my mom is a total cooker. It's no lie, she's cooked for me for years, but aside from that she's cooked for large groups of folks, including our church while growing up. As a result, she's always been insistent that I learn to be a cooker myself. So she taught me.  Her methods are.... different? Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I've picked up the same ones. Would you like a recipe? I can provide one to you, however, it will not usually include exact measurements.  For example, when making dumplings (even now), I'll ask,
"How much flour do I add?"
"Keep adding." (Note that she occasionally is in a different part of the room, or not even in the room.)
"But, you're not looking!"
"I just know. Keep adding."  20 seconds, or three scoops later, "Okay. That's good."
She's always right. 

Back to the Wednesday night pancake craving, and it was 7 or so in the evening. I was determined to make them. I was in great haste. I was ready for the goodness that a pancake can deliver. I was pouring the batter onto the skillet (after making certain, of course, that the skillet was appropriately hot) and had served myself two warm and buttery pancakes, and was pouring the rest of the batter onto the skillet when I saw my error.  (This particular "recipe" only makes 5 or so.)  The egg, a vital part of a successful pancake, had only been mixed into half the batter, and the globs that fell out onto the skillet looked less than appealing.... and in reality it was. I was left in the end with flour on my face, all over my pants, and syrup on my arms (I've no idea how that happened) and two small pancakes.

The thing about patience is, you really are given good things when you wait.  This is not the first time that I've ruined a batch of something, because my speediness prevented me from paying attention.  I have also been blessed beyond the best thing my imagination could whip up because I waited. 

Waiting is hard.  Knowing what I want and sometimes what I need leaves me feeling frustrated and perhaps angry at times.  I am a doer, and there are things that I want to do to get to where I want to be and have, and yet, there is no action step for me to take.... Yet, there is.  As I learn the lessons God puts in front of me, and I learn to wait and to pray more, I move closer to tomorrow, where it just so happens, good things are waiting for me. 

"Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow- that is patience."

And, I'll be honest. Good pancakes come to those who wait.
Now for that syrup.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Umans, with the Turkey, in the Kitchen

           Home again.  It's Thanksgiving time, and while I try to live in a continued state of thankfulness, [I do say try because, well, I'm human. (Or, as my Uncle would say, "Uman.")] I find it especially easy during the holidays.  I arrived home extra early this year, showing up in the driveway Tuesday night, instead of the typical Wednesday afternoon/night.  I worked on Wednesday (just not in the office) and then the festivities began. (Well, first I took a nap.)
           We are not  swanky.  I like it this way. Not that I wouldn't enjoy fancy pants and all, but there is something extra relaxing about laughing and cooking and eating and laughing and eating, all in comfy pants. (Everyone should know by now I live in comfy pants, although today I did fix my hair.) We are just us, and as we come to the table with whatever we feel best in, and that's who we are. I like it best on days that we celebrate life just as us.
            Every year is surprising.  This year was no different as I begged my Uncle to sit at the table and play games.  We do not keep score. We don't really ever know the rules.  The goal is usually to make Jacob laugh and catch it on film. Today we turned it into a free for all.  Several of us took a turn at "winning" as the rest of us hunched over, and tried to catch our breath. We did that for hours today. I loved it.   We do have pictures of that moment.  While our clothes are not pressed, our hearts are happy, and our faces tell the story.
           It's amazing to me that there are times, and today was no different, that the stress of life, and the working, and the errand-ing, and the doing want, to catch up to us, grab us by the ankles and pull us into a continual state of sameness. Sameness doesn't have to be bad or boring, but at times I feel like I am nearly drowning. All of those events, those necessary work days and errand days, are all a part of life.  However, so is today.  What a great way to celebrate life; take a day like today and plop it into the middle of every other regular day day,  add food, comfy pants, games, and some people willing to laugh.
          We'll do today again, on a different day.  We'll be dressed similarly, or maybe exactly the same.  We'll be cozy and warm (whether or not it is winter or summer) and we'll settle in for laughing, and eating.  I'll be there.  You are welcome to come to.  We always have room at the table.

My brother is a listener.  He hears and learns lines and phrases and sayings.  He quite often will throw those phrases out, but he adds a little John twist.
John- Wears the tea pan lid?
Aunt- Right behind you John.
Ma- John, if that were a snake...
John-... It woulda bit me on the tongue. (Slower, with emphasis.) It woulda bit me on the tongue.
                                 *Close enough Bud, close enough. 

That's how we roll.
Let's be thankful for our today-whatever they had, whatever they were, let's be thankful.  Then let's carry the thankfulness on into our tomorrows.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Sweet Chicken

It was literally a hot pot.  That’s how we met.  Undoubtedly, we would have met even if our bathroom had both hot and cold water, but it’s makes the story a little more interesting. 

I was a freshman.  She was arriving as a sophomore.  We were suitemates.  Rita and I were settling in to our room, and Melissa came through the bathroom we shared.  We initially had no warm water, and then no cold.  The “Throne” was literally boiling due to the high temperature.  It took a few days, but by then we were friends. 

We connected over chips and salsa, and Cheddars became a favorite study spot and a place to play cards and eat queso.  She loved pizza, and I was all about chicken. She annihilated me in Cribbage.  (Although my Egyptian Ratkiller game is probably better.) She married Josh, who I grew up with, (Love ya buddy!) and our worlds intersected even more.

Not all of our plans turned out for the best.  Sledding down the hill of death was probably not one of finest moments.  (Although truth be told, it was exciting until we landed and had whiplash for three days.)  We dropped the Sign Language course after one class realizing the traveling that was involved. But, not before I bought the book.  We attempted to learn, “Talk to me sweet lips,” but could only find the signs for “Talk to me sweet chicken.”   We also learned the importance of finger spelling.  Passing notes in chapel? Nope, we just used sign language.  Melissa tried to gracefully hurl herself over some bars, and nearly killed herself. (After I stopped laughing, I was able to run to her aid and see she was still alive), and I basically did the same in the middle of a fast food restaurant, making a spectacle of myself. 

We made up songs (which we sometimes still do), and we would drive around with 7 or 8 people in her little red car.  We were acrobats, and dance fanatics.

These days you might say we’re calmer.  Age does that.  Underneath it all, we still have our wild ideas, and great plans for the future.  We go in turns of staying up late and falling asleep early. She’s even more beautiful, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to live in her light. She is a baker, and a mom, and I am a “crafter” and a wannabe writer.  My plan is by the time I have babies, hers will be old enough to babysit. In the meantime, she reminds me that good things are in store for me in the future, and I remind her that one day her children will be through the whiny stage.

I am not sure what causes people to connect, but we did.  And, while some people may find time and distance to cause two to drift apart, it is exactly the opposite for me and Melissa. The truth is, the more that time passes, the better we are.  And while I do not live in Nebraska now (maybe someday), Melissa is always home to me.

You and me.
Me and you.

Love you, My Sweet Chicken.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I remember when I met her. I remember in fact was she was wearing. She was my future college roommate, and my now friend of 15 years.

I should explain though. We had met previously, through words on paper. But, this was the day we actually met, in person...My Rita.

My dad had driven down to Southern Indiana, spreading the goodwill and cheer of Bible Quiz. It was on that particular day that Bible Quiz Finals occurred at the same time Fine Arts was. (For those of you uncertain of what Bible Quiz and Fine Arts are, at this time you just need to know it involves a lot of teenagers.)

My dad however, met Rita's mom, and then Rita.
He arrived home, and handed me a slip of paper with name and address.

"I met this girl," he said. "Write her. She is going to your college too, and she won't know anyone."

So, I wrote her. The next months were letters back and forth. Letters about posters and music. The color of bedspreads, and if we should decide to be roommates. We decided we should.

It was time for State Finals (for Bible Quiz, and Fine Arts), in Indianapolis. All day long I kept running into this girl, and we would chat. We would smile and chat, and ask how the other was doing. At the end of the day, during the awards ceremony, our names were called at separate times, my name, and then the name of the other girl. Ironically, it was Rita- my future roommate Rita, that I had been talking to all day long. We talked again. We laughed and smiled about the chance encounter.  We were roommates for 2 years and then friends forever ever since.  (It was touch and go for a while. I thought one of us might not come out alive at one point- toss up on who- but we survived!  Who knew that she would find it calming to rearrange our entire room, during the middle of exams week!) 

Anyone can say life is not easy.  Anyone can say that things do not always go the way we think they should.  Rita, though, despite the not easy, and despite things not going the way we want, she shows that you can get up, press on, and the morning is usually better than initially anticipated. Her story is hers, and while our stories are combined, her part is hers to tell.  I just wanted to take a moment to say I'm proud of you.  I know it's been quite a trip over the last 11 months, and it's not quite over, I know you will rise above everything, still standing tall (or, if I have it my way, stooped over laughing hysterically).

Love you Rit.

Things that Initially Sound Like a Good Idea....

1) Fun Dip. In reality, it's colored powder. It's sticky. It's messy. No one wins.
2) Touch Screen Phones. Hanging up on loved ones has never been easier.
3) Alarm Clocks. A Warning that it's time to wake up? I'd rather not.
4) High heels.
5) Apartments on the third floor, and couches that come in one piece.
6) Crazy glue.  Glue your fingers together just once, and you'll never touch that stuff again.
7) Pinterest. Don't judge.  
8) High Temp Hot Glue.  You've been warned.
9) Carrying six bags at one time, down the side walk and up three flights of stairs. With a jug of milk.
10) Buying items from an infomercial.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Attack of the Megadriles

We were 14. Barely.  I'm pretty certain it was summertime.  Amy and I were huddled together in the tv room of her house. It was 11 (at night) and we were watching Squirm, A 1976 "horror" film. If I were to write a quick synopsis it'd say, "Just outside of "Peaceful town, USA," downed electric lines shoot electric volts into the ground, and create man-eating monsters. Will the town survive?"  

We couldn't turn away.  At one point our terror turned away from the movie and toward her family.  We screamed, and then we realized it was midnight-ish... or later. We waited anxiously wondering who would get got first- us, by her parents, or the town, by those electrified monsters. (No one even noticed our scream.  Good thing we weren't being attacked by man-eating..night crawlers.)

There are few things I remember from the film. 
#1, some man with a (blue?) pickup, thought he was attractive. He would walk up to the cute girl, smile a horse face smile,  and say, "Hey, wanna take a ride in my truck?" For weeks, I'd walk up to Amy and say the same thing. I even remember the face I'd make.
#2, when the going gets squirmy, the squirmy hide inside a wooden trunk.  Remarkably, those pesky worm creatures could borrow into and through every other wooden surface, through floors and walls but not a wooden trunk?
#3, every girl needs a good pair of high platform shoes.  For get away purposes. 

Although I remember that as being a favorite  night, I will say I never intended on watching that movie, and I'm pretty certain I never will again.

Unless perhaps Amy wants to get together to see Squirm 2.

And, I do tend to do a double take every time I see a downed power line.... Never can be too careful!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Going Home

It always happen that the moment I pull into the drive way, unpack my car, and walk in the doors of home that I sigh. Middlebury. While as much is different, much is the same. John's "ramson" note is still on the wall of the garage.  (To be a proper kidnapper, you have to leave a note; it's only appropriate that you leave one with black marker on the garage wall.) Three Forks, my favorite spot made up of three trees, is still across the street.  There are pictures still of me and my brother all over the place.

The walls are different now. The paint is a new color. There's a new couch.  Ironically, the couch matches my couch back over the state line. My mom's favorite spot is my favorite spot. My Dad is gone this time, off traveling for work, and my brother is visiting my Auntie. Today, was me and my mom, and we rested, (okay, actually I rested and she did homework like a good student). Tomorrow we're going to church, and to Cheddars (my favorite, but new to town).

There's nothing like having a place to call home.  Home is not just a building, a specific location. Home is with people. Home is a place you can go to and just be.

I go home, and I get stuck there, and never want to leave, but the world is out there calling out demanding that I come and see.  I'd really just rather lay on the couch.  

"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."
~John Ed Pearce

Friday, November 09, 2012

Living in the Light

It was only a few weeks ago.  We were taking a hike through the town, much like a hundred other hikes before. Aside from the fact that we were walking, and walking is always fun the night was dissimilar in every other way.  The sun set far too quickly, and it's counterpart was already nestled in the sky by the time we rounded the corner to head home.  I gasped when I saw it.  I cannot say that I ever remember seeing the moon in that way before.  My description, before I even put pen to paper is lacking. It was glorious.  It was a full moon, and the moon in it's fullness is always a beautiful thing, but this time. This time, it was different.  The moon, this moon, was encircled in a ring of light.  Imagine it laying on the ground, flat.  The circle around the moon wasn't an inch away, but more like ten or fifteen inches.(I attached a link, Halo look later but imagine the ring, as thinner and the sky beyond pitch black) It was gorgeous.  Had it been a reasonable thing to do, I could have laid on the ground, and stared all night at it.

What am I seeing? Although I know it was seconds I was literally in awe. I was so caught up with this sight, this every day occurrence that has happened once, twice, hundreds of times, but I was seeing it for the first time, or thinking I was seeing it for the first time. It couldn't be an Eclipse.... We hear about those, it doesn't look like this..... I can "google" and figure it out later.... Is the Earth  in the way of something just a touch bigger, and is the light was shooting forward, sliding by the Earth and around the Earth and landing in a circle around the moon........... Is the Earth is in the way of this other object taking over and shining its light all throughout the Universe!

I was starring at the moon as all of these thoughts were swirling in my head. Then a thought hit me that had nothing to do with the moon at all, but it had to do with the Light that God has called me to live in. The Truth and the Life God has called me to follow and to serve.  While I was looking at the moon God was reminding me that  I have a job to do, and sometimes I just get in the way.  Sometimes, I hope at least sometimes, God's light is pouring around me, but what I want, and what I need to happen, is for God's light and love to pour THROUGH me, so that there is no shadow and no shade, only light.

I, in my own strength am ill-equipped. I cannot make a difference, I cannot shine a light.  But, when I allow myself to be overtaken by the Light....that's when I can.

Living in the Light,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NCC. Day One. Again.

Welp. It's official.  Tomorrow will be Day #1 of the NCC, the No Complain Campaign.

"But Stephanie, weren't you on Day 5, oh a week ago?"
Good question. 

It is true that I was on Day 5 of the No Complaint Campaign on September 5th, but it is also true that September 5th ended as Day 1. I've been circling Day 1 ever since.

"Why? Stephanie? Why try? Why not just go with a good thing?" Because sometimes, words are not so good.

The Truth: Words are decisions we get to make daily. From the moment I wake in the morning, until the moment I throw myself (literally I usually toss myself in some manner) in bed, I make a lot of decisions. What am I going to where? How am I going to fix my hair (or, more accurately) am I going to fix my hair?  Throughout the day I give directions. I tell people what to do, how to respond, how to act.  And yet, one area hard to tame- my words.

Words are powerful.  "Sticks and stones may break my bones," but your words will ever haunt me, is actually a more descriptive saying than the saying children have been heard chanting for years and years.  The truth, bones can heal, and become unbroken, skin is healed of scratches.  The heart, however, is that place where memories are most stored and contained, that place where love is born and lives and dies. The heart remembers words spoken.

I love words.  Loquacious by nature, I love the abundance use of words, and okay perhaps, I enjoy a hearty conversation.  However, how many of my words are useless? How many are directed at someone with malice?  How many are shot into the air and land in the wrong spot, intended for a wrong purpose?  Too many.  One I have decided is too many.  Right now, I am working on making a conscience choice to manage my words.  It is work. I cannot lie, but every day, I am finding it easier to bite back a complaint or a groaning.  And one day, possibly in the distant future, when my name is mentioned, when my name is mentioned, those around will remember me spilling sunshine and happiness into the air, instead of grumbling and groaning. In the meantime, I'll be sporting a yellow (or purple) bracelet, as a reminder to choose my words carefully.

Want to join in my No Complain Campaign?  Just do it! Remember, you won't hear criticism, or discouraging words coming out of my mouth!  Change your world! I'm changing mine.

"The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

"Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Shine bright, and have a little fun along the way.
Hunter, out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God's Faithfulness, With a Side of Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Tonight, I met my friend Karen at our usual date spot.  It is a reliable place, because we are always guaranteed a couple of things.  Number 1, by the time we get there, which is normally between 6:30 and 7:00, the big rush is gone. (Their typical diners, I suspect, are on their way home by 5 pm.) Number 2, we are always greeted by either a warm fireplace, or a row of empty rocking chairs. Tonight was the latter.  We wrapped up our meal, me guzzling a last bit of that sweet tea, (strangely we manage to eat while we talk), and we headed outside to sit on the rocking chairs of rocking chairs.  It was a glorious night.  We had a clear sky, and a gorgeous sunset.

Good ole CB, or Crackle Barrel (as I called until I bothered to read the sign at probably age 12).  It is nothing if not consistent.  The sweet tea, is always sweet. The gift shop is always full, and the layout is always consistent. Literally, every state the same. 

I am nothing, if not inconsistent.  I change my mind frequently.  I decide a path, and half way to my destination, I create my own detour. I decide that I am going to do 31 different hairstyles in 31 days, and only half-way make it through day 1. I determine on Sunday night that I will be amazing and sparkling, and friendly to everyone, and five minutes from work Monday morning, I throw in the towel.  Life is hard.  And, quite frankly, I can be cranky.

Tonight, though, I was reminded again, that CB's consistency, and my inconsistency is far outweighed and out measured by the faithfulness of God. Some of you know exactly what I'm saying.  I can look outside, and although I need to work on doing it more, I can see God's work in creation. I am reminded of God's peace in the middle of a bad situation. It is always up to me to determine if I am going to live the way I know I should, full of good attitudes, sugar, spice and everything nice, or if I am going to be cranky, and full of... snails? I know what I should do. It's easy when I'm at home, in my own little world, full of 2 living plants, and myself.  God, however, God's faithfulness is not based on my current condition.  He loves me regardless.  He loves me despite consistent inconsistency.

I know, believe me, I know, bad things happen.  Bad things happen all around us. I cannot explain it. I cannot give you a good reason.  I cannot tell you why, or make it any better. I cannot.  In those moments. Those bottom of the barrel, full of complete sorrow and agony, moments, that I can most see God moving. Now matter how I look at it, I cannot explain what happens. In the Bible it talks about a peace that passes understanding.  You know, that quiet, calm feeling that you have inside, when everything in life is quiet and calm. Imagine experiencing that feeling in the midst of complete chaos. I have seen that.  I have felt it.

I cannot explain it to you.  I have sat with those in the middle of loss of the deepest kind, and although there is sorrow, there is peace.  That, is God at work. 

Cracker Barrel will be the same from state to state. And, even if you experience a bad biscuit once in a while, overall, you will always have a down home and tasty experience.  I will probably never be completely consistent.  My inconsistencies are even inconsistent.  I will, however, try my hardest.  I will get up and (AGAIN- I know, I am a work in progress, and I am consistently saying this) again give it ago one more time.  But God.  God will continue in His faithfulness. He will bring peace to those who look to Him. He will continue to give me do-overs, even if it's daily (it generally is for me- unless I sleep for a constant 24  hours).  He will continue in this manner, without fail. 

Great and Consistent is His Faithfulness.
Cracker Barrel's mashed potatoes, while excellent, can hardly compare. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Better Than Fine, Always

"Stephanie, don't borrow trouble." I can see her, with her finger pointing near my nose, and her mouth pursed. My Mama still says this to me, and even on the phone I can see the look she gives me. "Just don't do it. In the end, you cannot change anything by worrying, and you will have wasted your time; everything will be fine."  I have to admit, that she has always been right, everything always has been fine, better than fine. Despite my proficiency in worrying, she is correct, it doesn't change anything, and it certainly wastes time.

However, I have to also admit, that I have not always listened to my mother. Today is certainly no different. I am fighting the worry, and trying to occupy myself with other things, like praying, and, oh I don't know... eating ice cream, and watching geeky movies. (Even Matlock isn't helping tonight.)  Once again, I'm faced with a decision, a choice to worry, or a choice to trust, trust God that all will be alright.

More than the actual outcome, I'm actually more concerned about my attitude, which although I try to tamp it down, it does tend to run around flaring it's red hair.  I like things my way.   I like giving my hand a little quick wave, and directing other people to do whatever I tell them. (Probably why I enjoy being called "boss" so much (ha!)) I know everyone says they want things the way that want them, but I really really mean it, and over time I've only gotten worse.  I tend to have an attitude if it does not, and even if it doesn't show, I can feel it, and it's not so great.

Right now, the real question isn't even what am I talking about.  It doesn't matter. The truth is every day I wake up. And, when I do, I have to determine if I am going to do what I can to change what I can, and whether or not I am going to accept those things that I cannot. (Side note, I just read that sentence four times, and I have no idea if it even makes sense.) 

Is there a prayer request somewhere in all this mess? Yes. Please pray that I can tuck away my bad attitude, and replace it with grace and understanding and compassion, and all other things that are needed while living. Please pray that I will take advantage of today. Please pray that I will overcome my attitude, that I will love all people, and that when I wake up, I will shine. 

1 Thessalonians 5:5 

Monday, June 25, 2012

More, Please

I have been looking forward to the day(s) when I was free of school work and able to enjoy ... EVERYTHING.  Now that those day(S)! have arrived, I have been thoroughly enjoying myself. 

Earlier this year I decided (because of Facebook) to volunteer myself in making 12ish projects for people in 2012.  My number is actually a little longer than 12, but the more the merrier I say.  I took care of one project a while ago, and then a second project a little while ago minus a few weeks.  This weekend I took on a third, and soon that'll be in the mail! (very excited and I hope they like it!)

Needless to say, the only things that are preventing my creating and living life fun would be work and sleeping.  I'm managing to get a lot squeezed in regardless.

Along came Pinterest.  It's the rave right now, especially among bloggers and Facebookers, teachers, mothers, fathers(?), friends... anyone with a computer really.  This week I decided to make a meal based on recipes all on Pinterest.  I used to be way more proactive about finding new recipes in my cookbooks (my mom, for those of you who don't know, is a cooker, so one thing I am NOT without is a cookbook- or 15.)  For a while, that wasn't happening.  Now, I'm back in full force. 

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture yesterday! I shocked myself, because I tend to take pictures of everything, even if it's just for me.  Regardless,  yesterday I made Easy, Garlic Chicken, Strawberry Cream Pie (much thanks to Just Puzting Around the Kitchen) and "Zesty" Italian Potatoes!

I have to confess however, I am not a fan of graham cracker crust, so I decided to try my hand at making my own without a recipe.  I'm not really a measure-er with anything except for baking.  Since I was on such a roll yesterday dashing this and sprinkling more of that, I just thought how hard could crust be??? Yeahhhh.  It was more like Strawberries and Cream! But, hey! turned out great just as is, and discovered the cream would be excellent (and was) just as a dip for fruit, or cookies! 

On to somethin' new!
Love to all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Lunch Box and A Little Bit o' Potential

Sometimes, the greatest gift someone can give us, is his or her story.

Their story is priceless. However, it is their story to tell, and not mine.  Other stories though evolved as I watched and listened and saw all that happened over minutes and hours and days.  Somehow in that small fraction of time, hundreds of minutes, I watched a story.

Goofy? Yes. Absolutely, 100 percent, goofy.  Compassionate? 150 percent.  Even as a child, his heart ached, ached for others.  I was self-conscious and worrying about matching, and he was worried about the hurts of another child.  This girl, you see, was not like the others. She was messy. She was not attractive, and she did not smell good.  I can remember being a child and knowing when something was not clean, and not wanting to have anything to do with it, but he... he did not let her exterior dissuade him from becoming her friend.

And, he was her friend.  I do not know the length of time that he remained by her side. I do not know the lunch hours he spent talking with her. All I know is that he said, he could not leave her alone. He could not leave her to face the big lunch room, and the students who accompany that place, alone.  I can imagine they talked about school, and assignments and teachers, and hobbies that they enjoyed when they were free in the summer.

It did not take the other kids long to figure it out that they had a new target.  Object 1, well, she didn't look so nice, and since Object 2 hung around her... he must not look so nice either.

Kids are cruel.  His heart was broken daily as words like rocks were thrown at him, smashing him down and causing him to question his cause.  He could leave her.  There was no rule or requirement that forced him to be with her. He could and no one would blame him.  The trouble is, he couldn't. God placed that girl in his heart on purpose, and he wouldn't abandon her. And so he didn't. He stuck by her side.  As the other kids mocked and jeered, he kept tucked in his heart words of songs, and promises of a Savior who had designed a great purpose for his life. The whole time kids were laughing, he moved about shining.  Eventually, I'm sure he lost touch.  I cannot but help believe, though, that she never forgot her friend.

I needed the reminder.  The story was told almost nonchalantly, but as it was told, the attention of my heart was grasped.  My burdens have been selfish as of late.  Inconsiderate even. Totally inward.  But, a child, the child who still lives in the grown man called out to me, reminding me that time is short, and the world is hurting.  I am far removed from the elementary school cafeteria. (Shout out to all my York friends!) I am not so far removed though from the hurt I recall at being rejected, and disowned by "friends." I know the pain of not fitting in, and not knowing where I belong.

We live in a world full of titles, and clubs, and in-crowds and "out-crowds," and we hope that as we grow up, we learn to out grow those groups, but we don't.  We look to fit in and belong.  However, above all, there is ONE person to whom I must belong.... and He, He doesn't care what we look like, or what we bring to the table in our lunch boxes. He simply cares that we come. 

To the little boy, who has worked so hard at shining, keep going. Don't give up, and don't get discouraged, even now remember God has GREAT plans for you, and the beautiful girl you now have has your wife. We cannot always see around the corner, but we can always be certain that God is waiting there with a big sign that says, "You are NOT gonna believe what I have planned next!"

To those of you uncertain about your place, and finding where you belong, talk to me.  I can show you the way. There's always room at His table.

Much love to all,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Barbecue Sauce with Fries on the Side

I cannot think about Beth without smiling.  She is there, in many many memories, smiling, acting goofy, and probably doing something us older girls bribed her to do. (We promise, we will never you Bethy!) We also knew, all of us, that she would marry her Chris, and she did. Now, they have three beautiful (and I mean beautiful) babies. 

It is amazing to see her (well, I Facebook-cyber-stalk Beth on a regular basis) and hear her stories and antics about what her children are up to, and how they are becoming these amazing people already at such a young age.  I am, however, not surprised that hilarity often ensues. 

Most recently I was struck by a comment that she made regarding Keely. Keely, age 3, is Beth all over again, with her big eyes, and light hair.  As Beth and Keely were out and about one day running errands, Beth took a jaunt through McD's, and while normally eating in the van is not allowed, that day, Mommy made an exception.

Although I wasn't actually present for the event, I can well see what took place over the next few moments as Keely rummaged through the bag, looking through her lunch items, when she saw something in the bottom that did not belong.

Being the dramatic soul that I am, I imagine that in this next moment, Keely through her arm over her face, and with her other hand practically toss the bag to her mom.  (Basically, because that's what I'd do.)  What she did do though, was yell, "Take this! Take this! I am not allowed to have it!!"

What was in the bag? Barbecue sauce.

I cannot say how I would have responded right now, let alone when I was a mere three years old.  You may be thinking, "Wouldn't you just eat it? It's barbecue sauce... you're an adult. You can eat in the car if you want to, or don't. Really, no one cares about the BBQ sauce..."  The truth is, I would eat barbecue sauce,  (except that right now, I am avoiding fast food altogether [sigh]).  As I read this though, my thought trailed away from beloved BBQ to regular ol' temptation.

For Keely, it wasn't enough for Keely to leave the BBQ sauce in the bottom of her bag, close it up and set it on the seat beside her.  The temptation was just too close. Close enough, in fact, that she could have done the sneaky thing, opened the packet and tasted the yummy goodness.  (Those packets are hard to open, but in a child's determined hands, I wouldn't put it past her.) Keely, in the wisdom of a three year old, saw past the moment of instant gratification, and saw where the consequences of  her actions would lead. BBQ sauce can be hard to hide if it's all over your face, you are out of napkins, and have no mirror. (I'm just sayin'.)

Instead she knew that she had to rid herself of the temptation altogether.
"Take this! Take this, Mom! I am not allowed to have it!!"  
Being the super mom that she is, Beth took the BBQ sauce, relinquishing her daughter from the sauce and any possible outcomes that might have happened had she kept it. 

I have my own temptations.  BBQ sauce is not necessarily one of them, but they are there, and my decision becomes what do I do with them. 

We can read the Bible and know that even Jesus faced temptation, so unfortunately, I'm not sure of a way where we can altogether stop them from coming.  However, there are methods for getting rid of them.  In Keely's case, toss the bag with the goods into the front seat with Mom.  She'll keep her covered.

In my case, a little prayer goes a long way. I guess, that would involve me "tossing the bag with the goods into the hands of my Father." He has proven good at catching.

Matthew 26:41
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Sending lots of love and chocolate (and a little barbecue sauce) your way,

Oh, and Keely, High Five to you! Way to go!! 

Friday, May 11, 2012


The bus ride.
That dreaded stretch in the afternoon when we would load onto the bus and sit (for what seemed forever) It was not a quiet, calm ride for me. Instead of time to do homework, or to chat with friends, I had to wrestle to keep my adorable, fiery red haired, as-cute-as-you-could-ever-be-brother (believe me, he was cute), in his seat, and out of the aisles, and away from those who would tempt him to do.... stuff (that only would ever result in him getting in trouble). 

I was over my head, and out of my league. Then along came John's forever protector.  Actually there were two of them, but Brandon, Brandon saved me on a daily basis on the bus, as he guarded and watched over my brother. I could finally relax knowing that no one would infiltrate the wall that Brandon and the fellow protector made around my brother.

Years and years later, my chance to, (in a small way) repay Brandon happened.  My brother was in high school, and Brandon's younger sister, Bonnie, was in John's class.

"You know, John," I said to him, "Bonnie is Brandon's sister."
"I know."
"You know, Brandon took care of you. You need to take care of Bonnie. Don't let anything happen to her."
"I won't, Steph. I'll take care of her."

He did.

John, and his whole class loved Bonnie.  But John, my brother, my hero, took my words seriously.  Bonnie was his friend, and she was his responsibility. (Apparently to the point where he would not allow others to take her down the hallways. He was the only one allowed to push her down the hall--- his rules of course.)

"How is Bonnie?" I would ask.
"She's good."
"What do you do when she's in school with you?"
"We touch her face, and we touch her arms and her hands. We talk to her, and tell her we are there, and we sing to her."
"What do you sing?"
"My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."
"Does she like it?"
"Oh, yes."
"How do you know."
"I just do, Steph. I just know."

He did. I believed him. He knew. 

It's no wonder then, to me, that when I drive by your family's old house, that I miss you, Brandon.  It's no wonder that when I go back to my memories of elementary school, that you are there. And, at times, when I see my brother, that I remember you.  And, it never fails that every time I do remember you, I smile, and then I grow sad, because I miss you.

And, while I miss the boy that you were, others miss you for the man that you became. And while I cry, over that boy who saved me for those years on the bus, your family and your friends cry, missing the man, the dad, the husband, the friend that you became.

Thank you, Brandon. One hundred times over.  Thank you.

We will love you forever. We will miss you for always.
You will always be in our hearts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crazy, Wide Eyes, with a Glue Gun in My Pocket

In my mind, I believe myself to be fairly creative.  Behind it I have a terribly wicked (not wicked-evil- wicked, but wicked "cool" wicked.....Is it even cool to say wicked now? Oh, whatev) imagination.  I'm not sure where it came from, but I'm sure it's part hereditary, part Nancy Drew, part Ramona, and, well real life! (Sometimes real life is too crazy it canNOT be imagined!)

I have been known to be found sitting on the floor (My first favorite place to sit in my living room is the floor) and to be surrounded with crafting supplies and materials and pictures.

My creative crafting side, unfortunately, has been thwarted over the last few years as I made a decision in the Spring off 2008 to go back to school.  As if all the years from Kindergarten through 12th grade in High School, and then 4 additional years of college were not enough, I determined that I needed a second dose of literacy torment.  I am 1 test, 2 partial classes, and 1 assignment away from being finished with this second dose of schooling.   I. Am. Ecstatic.  Summer is right before my eyes and I have visions of running and biking, writing, and crafting to my little heart's contentment all bouncing around in my head.

In addition, the internet, Facebook, and more importantly Pinterest (Oh, Beloved Pinterest) has opened my eyes to a whole gamut of ideas and projects.  Did I mention I was ecstatic??!?!

However, there is this tiny, tiny, teeny tiny speck, that is anticipating that I will miss school, miss the learning and the challenges.  How will I fill my time? What's it like to be a regular working person, and not a regular working person, and a full time college student??? I do not remember!!

Tonight, I spoke with my school mentor (my school adviser in short) about my plans for finishing up and my dreams of what's next.

"My mom has already threatened myself if I enroll in additional classes right after I'm finished...."

She laughed.  Then she stated the following statement, "You know that there is a Masters Program you can enroll in. It's only four classes. Not a standard Masters program. Six months and you're finished. Nothing compared to the classes you are completing now..."

Instantly, my mind starts moving and calculating.  Could I?  Should I? Did my mom really threaten me with physical violence?  Can my friends handle me, crazy, wide eyed, and homework laden for a few more months?  Maybe. Perhaps, just maybe.

First things first, before I move to the next task, I should finish my current program.  Then afterward, perhaps I should get elbows deep into a few fun projects, live as a regular worker person for a while and then decide. 

Crazy, wide eyed with a glue gun and some scissors, or sleep deprived and buried in a bed of books?  Both of the ideas are calling out to me.

For now, I better ignore them both, I've got some sleeping to do.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Moving Forward, Living Backwards

Grace loved life. She loved the smell of grass when it was freshly mowed. She loved flowers and books and her friends. Of course, she loved her family too. She was happy.


Days could be difficult at times. She would wake up in the morning, and would get ready, the same as everyone else. She would have her shoes on her feet, and her backpack would be secure, and off she would go to school. She knew without a doubt that she would meet her friends at the corner and they would walk to their school building and the day of learning would begin. Life should have been good.

However, Grace's trouble began first thing in the morning. She would get out of bed, and on her way to the bathroom, would run into the wall. She would typically miss the bottom two steps of the staircase and land in a heap on the floor. She would trip over stones down the sidewalk. Cars would honk as she would be approaching and entering into the cross walk. Grace realized no one else had this difficulty. No one else was running into the wall. No one else was falling down the stairs. No one else was tripping over stones, and cars would not honk at her friends. The trouble with Grace? She walked backwards.

Backwards. Everyday and everywhere. Grace could not remember exactly when she started walking backwards. She did remember that it began the morning after a wonderful day. The day was bright and full of memories and laughter. Grace enjoyed that day so much that she turned around backwards all day long, every day, so that she could better remember it.

Other days came and went. She would have moments, seconds, minutes, maybe hours of greatness, but something was always holding her back from real bliss. While moving forward, Grace was living backwards. She was living in the past, walking through the future, missing every new and wonderful moment that would present itself. She did not see where she was going. She only saw where she had been and where she could never go again.

Grace missed being happy and laughing with her friends. How to solve the issue? Grace walked around thoughtfully, before she made a decision. Tomorrow. Tomorrow she would not walk backwards. She would move going in the right direction.


How many of us can say that we do the same? We lay in bed and remember what happened yesterday or last week. It could have been a wonderful, delightful event, but living in the past, prevents you from really living today and in the future. Maybe the event was torture. There is pain in the past, so much so that you are afraid of what would come next. However, living in the past prevents you from receiving wonderful blessings- and healing.

It is not easy. Life. It meets us head on each moment we open our eyes. However, there can be joy in the morning. There can be peace in the middle of a storm. Ask me how.

One thing's for sure though, driving down the road, staring only at the rear view mirror, will always land you in the ditch.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mirror, Mirror.....

So not too long ago, (yesterday actually!) I had one of "those" days. You know the days, when despite how you really are looking, you feel like you look like you have green hair, and a big gigantic nose, and, two big feet and well...I'm sure you get the point.

Then, I remembered this:

"Your beauty that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which of great worth in God's sight."

1 Peter 3:3,4

Could that be true? Honestly? The fact that I could be beautiful, DESPITE the warts and the frizzed hair? And, then God says, yup- that could be true.

Which that makes me think, how often does my inside shine outwardly and reveal my TRUE beauty? Often times, I think instead of showing beauty I show an uglier side (even worse than a bad hair day).

I am guilty. I am guilty of an ugly attitude. I am guilty of a frown, not only fixed on my face, but it is also evidenced by a wrinkle that makes its appearance whenever I crinkle my forehead. I will make a face, and roll my eyes. I will have an attitude at times that is anything, anything but beautiful.

So what is the fix? I can always put a masque on my face- but there's not a "masque" for my heart. I can buy a new shirt and don a new pair of shoes, but I cannot dress my heart in the latest fashions... The heart cannot wear Prada.

What is the answer to the ugly heart? The true fix for the wrinkle in the forehead? Who can truly put a sparkle in the eye?

"You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Ephesians 4:22-24

In other words, it is time to change the wardrobe I tend to wear: the bad, cranky attitude, the selfish desires, and the like- all those things that WILL NOT appear beautiful when looking in the mirror. In its place, I need to clothe myself in a new attitude. A brighter attitude, wrinkle free, all smiles and patience.

That being said, we may think a brand new shirt is a good idea, however, a shirt is not necessarily going to make someone beautiful.

But Jesus will.

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." -Anais Nin

Monday, April 16, 2012


Summer was my best friend. We were three. She was naughty. We were always in trouble, and it always pointed back to her.

I was, of course, an obedient child. Rest and nap time meant just that- you were to rest, and to nap. But, who am I to argue when adventure came calling. It did come that afternoon. My eyes were closed, and I was practicing my resting when a voice, a broken, hushed, whispered voice spoke. "Stephanie!"

"Is it you, Lord?"

The Lord did not answer, however, Summer did.

"Stephanie! Stephanie! It's me, Summer! I'm hiding under the bed!" That should have been a sign right there. Somehow she had escaped her parents' bedroom, successfully made it down the hall, into her own room, and under the bed (where I was), all without being detected. Clearly Summer really wasn't interested in napping, or resting. It didn't last. We were caught. It would be hard NOT to get caught when you are only three, and you are missing from your assigned location.

We would eat at Cherries, an ice cream shop, with a ball pit. (It was, I'm sure absolutely disgusting. Those things creep me out now- but, eh, we were kids- what did we know?!)

My family moved to Indiana, but then we would travel across the country, back to Texas, and I would see Summer. By then, naps were out. Fire was in.

The house was ours. We were twelve. Granted, her parents were still in the same building, they were just sleeping. That left the two of us with free range...except, not quite. "I'm not allowed to use the stove, without my parents, you know. But, I could go for some bacon right now."
Who doesn't want bacon at 11 at night?

No stove? No problem.
Summer was quick. She cut up a few pieces of bacon, pulled out some foil, a plastic (yes plastic) lunch box, and some matches. Carefully, she laid the foil on the lunch box, placed the bacon on the foil and lit a match. I do not remember how the next steps went, but I do know that one of us held the lunch box (probably me) while the other (probably Summer) held the lit match underneath the lunch box, directly under the foil. The bacon was sizzling and cooked in a matter of minutes. Not bad, Summer, not bad.

Let's face it people, I'm a pale girl. I have freckles. I burn. Summer loved the sun. We would iein the driveway and work on "our" tans. Let me rephrase, Summer would iein the driveway and work on her tan. I would have a book, be wearing a towel to protect myself from the harsh UV rays threatening to speckle my pale skin, and pray for cloud coverage.

Somewhere, some moments after that, months or years later, we lost contact. She was there, and I was elsewhere. The letters stopped, and the phone calls and the visits. And, it was okay. It wasn't the type of painful breakup friends can experience. It wasn't on purpose- it just was.

I think about Summer, my friend. I have no pictures that I can find, but I have her memory. I still have it tucked away, the songs we would sing (while dancing) on my front porch (until we got in trouble for being inappropriate- once again, we were only three), I have her house in my mind, and her naughty smile when she came up with a great idea.

So in thinking about Summer today.... I hope that wherever you are, you are happy, and that you are well, and I hope that life has been a wonderful adventure.

AND, I hope you don't hide under the bed anymore......I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Truth Behind a Lie

I was sitting at the lunch table in 6th grade, middle of the cafeteria, and I knew I didn't belong. I knew it. They definitely knew it. At that moment, I was just praying I could go unnoticed. It didn't last long though. They did notice, and I was thrown into the wild that is known as Middle School.

I survived middle school, miraculously, with all my limbs intact. (Although, as many know, I was a few strands of hair lighter come the end of 8th grade.) I even made it through high school reasonably well, if you ignore the purple pants/red sweater era.

There are things that I left rot in halls of my good ole Alma Mater (the purple pants, for one, strange nicknames for another). However, some things just follow along.

How do you explain or disregard things that you believed to be truth ? I could not. What I had always known to be the case, continued to be the case through college, and even after I graduated, and set off in the big world, and finally, eventually, found my way to the Land of Lincoln they still remained.

It is amazing how separated I can be from the past, and yet in an instant, I am back there again, at that same table, not quite belonging, but not sure of where else to go. What I knew then, and what I know now, I don't quite fit in.

I have beautiful friends. It cannot be helped that I have good taste (ha!). Truthfully speaking, however, I really do have beautiful friends. Most of them do not know it, but as someone has lived in a shadow for so long, I can see clearly the others who live in the light. It was not hard to see the attention that they received, and for me, it was not hard to know why I did not. I was a mess. People told me. You may not think it's true, and I don't think they meant to either, but they did tell me. They said so in ways that didn't always need words, but the words did come. The sad part is, they may/probably don't even remember. It's all too unfortunate that I remember now.

"Oh, well, Stephanie, I guess she's prettier than that person- who, really isn't pretty at all."
Or, "Not lookin' so frumpy today?"
Or, "Well, that person got married, so what's wrong with you?"
Or, "Stephanie, you are plain- pretty."

If I had been braver, or bolder, I would have known what to say in response. I did not know. I still do not know an appropriate response. All I know is that I have believed those things to be true for a long time.

Not that I do not try. I do try. I try and try and try, and then I fall short. I have filled my closet as I have filled my head with the clothes and the thoughts that if I can just perhaps dress better, wear taller shoes, have a different style, I will make up for all my other shortcomings, and then perhaps, perhaps, people will like me. Perhaps someone will take note of the very me that I have tried to be for so long. Perhaps someone will believe in me enough to let me grow to be that person I so want to be. But, I'm still here at the end of a long day. An actually great day, struggling.

What is the truth? The truth is that the heart is important. The truth is that how I treat other people, how I care for other people, how I love other people- that is what matters. The truth is, there is only one me, and that God did create me on purpose with a purpose, and He wants me to believe that and to go out and be a light for Him. The truth is, it shouldn't matter how I look on the outside (as long as I don't smell), but that I should focus on the inside. The truth is.... I struggle to live with the truth.

Tonight, I'm going to go to sleep.

Tomorrow I'm going to wake up, and charge into the world, and attempt to make my way. Tomorrow I'm going to work on believing the truth- again. Tomorrow I'm going to work on having a good heart, and loving people, and having patience, and practice all those other things that I know I should do. I am going to have my priorities straight, and have a calm heart and a determined mind and be okay.

Tonight, I am going to throw away the Kleenex (not the whole box, of course, that would be silly), turn out the light and sleep.

Tomorrow. We'll see what happens tomorrow.