Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sharathon

As a first time volunteer answering phones at Love 89 Sharathon I am moved to share some thought and insight to the situation and atmosphere in the studio.
For the past two and a half days I have spent five hours sitting by the phones and answering calls. When I initially arrived on Tuesday the atmosphere was jovial, excited, and full of energy. Each ring of the phone brought smiles and cheers from both the Love 89 staff and the volunteers. Everyone was filled with hope for the coming days and hours and reaching the operating budget goal.
As the days have progressed the volume of calls has decreased and so have the pledges. The situation at the moment has the station funded at barely over 50% of the upcoming year.
For me this is a difficult thing to see. Love 89 has made a huge impact on me and my family. The first time I decided to give what inspired me was the sound of silence…knowing if they did not receive the funding they needed that is what I would hear when my dial hit 89.1. At that moment I knew I needed to do my part.
Now, years later, I have come to know some of the Love 89 staff on a personal level. My children view the DJ’s as family and beg to attend all the remote events where they will have an opportunity to see them, talk to them, and hug them. My pledge has increased each year in spite of the grim economic climate we currently find ourselves. I KNOW GOD will make the way for me to meet the pledge he has put on our hearts to commit.
Now as I sit here in “Telephone Central” looking at a silent phone my heart breaks. I know these people, care about them, and their families. I also care deeply about the call that God has put on their hearts and lives to do His work in this community.
This Sharathon is more than a few dollars to hear a few songs on the way to work and get a traffic update. This is people’s livelihoods and callings; God’s calling answered and fulfilled. These families who are willing to change their own lifestyles to answer His call and serve us…the listeners.
The people you are hearing on the radio are passionate about their callings, and their listeners. They have heard His call and they serve. And now they sit here trying to express the urgency for funding to keep God’s ministry flowing through our community. What they are not telling you, and what you cannot see, is this is their very livelihood in jeopardy. This call God has placed on them puts the food on their tables and clothes on their backs. Children are loved under their roofs and families are connected and bonded through this amazing family born of this radio station.
For me, any gift I may have to work a little harder for, cut something small out of my budget, or even something large is worth the sacrifice to know these people are able to continue their work. Answering His call can sometimes be a difficult thing; they do it graciously, happily, and thoroughly. I for one, choose to step up, make a difference, and do what I can so my friends will be able to continue their work for Him.

If you can help, or know someone who can, I encourage you to call 865-934-6089 or visit www.love89.org

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Too Close For Comfort

Today I find myself still somewhat reeling with shock and awe. Although I know our world is filled with wickedness I somehow try to maintain optimism that it will never strike too close to home. I am occasionally caught in unfortunate dilemmas requiring me to step back and reevaluate a circumstance, but this past weekend I found myself touched to the core and am still struggling to make sense of the situation.

I don’t think murder ever really makes sense. Sometimes, maybe, as retribution for horrendous acts against a child, I can get my brain around what would drive a person to this heinous act. But as an act of spite, or vengeance against another adult for a breakup, or a horrible divorce, adultery, theft; I just don’t get it. Even as I type I am sitting in an attorneys office as moral support to a friend who is in divorce mediation. Although I have been angry at her soon to be ex-spouse, and I know she has been too, I can’t imagine a reason to actually kill him. He is, after all, the father of her children and no matter how ugly they might be/have been to each other he doesn’t deserve physical punishment.

So this past weekend when I learned of a murder/suicide in Knoxville I was a bit surprised. We do have hardcore violence occasionally here, but it is rare I hear about it. I don’t read the paper regularly and tend to forgo the nightly news for children’s activities and family time. So the simple fact that I am aware of this incident makes it remarkable in my mind.

A vibrant young woman, who was a single mother, was shot and killed outside her home last Friday after returning from dropping her child off at school. The shooter then turned the gun on himself and took his own life. The two had a history, some of it publicized in the news media, spanning a number of years. Although I cannot speak to the validity of the reports the relationship had supposedly been tumultuous and terminated at some point.

This woman happened to be the mother of one of First Born’s friends, peers, and classmate. My brain reels to grasp what would push someone to this point. To kill the mother of a young child, leaving her world turned upside down, to me would require some sort of delirium, or insanity beyond my comprehension. The act in and of itself so violent it turns my stomach, and the thought of this child leaves me unable to breathe, suffocating in my sorrow for her.

There are many things I feel shouldn’t ever have to happen in a persons life. No one should have to explain to their second grader that their friend’s mother has been killed. And certainly no one should ever have to tell a second grade girl her mother is forever gone, torn from her life, by some undeserved act of violence. This incident, unfortunately, is not one I was able to keep at arms length.

Heavenly Father,

I pray for this extended family, that they have the strength and sanity to guide this child through the excruciating days ahead. I pray they have the gifts of guidance to steer her as she navigates her life without her mother. I pray for this child, that someday she receives the peace that surpasses all understanding, knowing she is safe in Your hand and that in spite of the immediate pain, all things work to some greater good (although at this point, any reason completely escapes me). I pray she is surrounded by loving hearts, caring hands, and all the warmth You can provide.

In Jesus sweet, sweet name.
Amen

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life Expected

When I was a girl I often thought of how my life would be when I grew up. I probably thought about this more than most little girls because I knew I would one day be able to escape a really messed up home with really messed up values. The picture I painted for myself always had a nice house, a handsome husband (always an Air Force pilot since I spent ten years of my life at living at the Air Force Academy), and a couple of kids. There were rarely any details of the house and the people in the family were faceless, but they were safe and consistent and usually sober.

When I actually had the opportunity to leave home for college I picked a school 2500 miles away from my parents. I knew their visits would be less frequent than at a school close, and fewer visits meant fewer confrontations. The problem was I was a pretty messed up young lady who made some very bad choices. To say I was reckless would be an understatement…I lived on the wild side, and thrived on adrenaline and risk taking. Most brilliant decisions were accompanied by a Crown and Coke or a Moose Head which made decisions all the more brilliant.


I got married in college to a pretty nice guy. He wasn’t the love of my life, but he was fun and handsome and we could put away equal amounts of beer in any given night. We spent a couple of years having fun then a little over a year being miserable and finally parted ways.


After this the recklessness ensued again. I loved being single and wild and partying and sleeping late. I didn’t have to answer to anyone and really liked it that way. This wild single life would be short lived because I met my Hero on a blind date and began our life together…faithless, unmarried, and both carrying an exhausting amount of baggage.


Fast forward ten year, skipping a whole lot of details, we are filled with love for our Lord, passionate for each other, and blessed with two beautiful, healthy children. We have our dream home, and paid for cars, and a church we love. Needless to say, life is GOOD!


After the conference I went to this weekend I really thought about what I had wanted out of life. What I have received is SO much better than I ever could have dreamed. I am truly amazed at how good God has been to me; protecting me from myself when I cared so little I almost died, salvaging a relationship with the father of my children, giving me the strength to handle all the things Satan has thrown against me.


I am so thankful I didn’t get the life I expected, the husband I imagined, the way I thought it was going to be. I am blessed beyond belief, and wouldn’t have it any other way.


Heavenly Father,
Thank you for not giving me the life I expected. Thank you for the blessings you have bestowed on me and my family.
I pray today for all my friends to find the blessings in their life which are so much better than they expected.
In Jesus sweet, sweet name,
Amen

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well Fed

Sometimes I am totally amazed at the sheer volume of awesomeness God can pack into a short women’s conference. This weekend is no exception and my cup runneth over and my appetite is satiated.

Friday night I got to pick up my friend Lynn and head off to Sevier Heights Baptist Church for the Fresh Grounded Faith Conference. I was super excited for the fellowship time with Lynn and equally excited for the speakers who were at the conference. The anticipation was great as we arrived seeing all the women from east Tennessee arriving knowing God had great things in store for us. From the moment we walked in I knew He was there to meet me, and feed me, and love me in this place.

I received so many meaningful and profound nuggets Friday and Saturday I find it challenging to truly give them each the time and thought they deserve. I expect as I take the time to meditate over the lessons I learned, pray over the meaning He wants me to pull from the experience, and grow in spirit through this conference I will find I have a lot of things to write about. But for now I will bask in His glory, receive His love and rest.

Mathew 11: 28-30 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. (The Message)

Lynn and I before praise and worship began. Isn't she cute!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Find

Since it’s Friday, and I like Fridays and fun things and finding fun things, I wanted to share one of my most recent “finds.” I frequently check out advertisers links on blogs, especially ones on the blogs I like and especially the advertisers who are other bloggers. This particular product caught my eye as I was hopping through blogs last week.

Out of the Box is one of the coolest finds I have run across lately. I love self pampering, trying new products, and value. I found all three of these with Out of the Box.


The concept is simple. Businesses send their sample product to Michelle. Michelle takes all the samples and certificates from the businesses and puts them in an adorable box. I buy the box and eagerly wait to see what fabulous goodies are to be found inside.


The box I received last week has some AWESOME stuff inside. There are numerous decadent full-size soaps; my favorite are the ones that look and smell exactly like the Circus Peanuts candy I enjoyed at my Papaw’s house as a child (and the things to enjoy there were few). YUMMY! Ant the cutest Rainbow Bright magnet, yep that brought back sweet memories too. The scented candles too are awesome, and yes I mean candles as in multiple. Lovely artistic greeting cards and sweetly scented lotions, fun things for a relaxing bath and a gorgeous artsy pin all brought a smile to my face as I delved into the box. It was SO much fun to receive and open.
All of the treasures found in this box, if acquired individually would require stops at endless websites, retyping addresses and probably paying for multiple shipping (even on samples) would likely cost $40-$60. The value of the samples themselves, especially the full size ones, is extraordinary. The total cost of this Friday Find is a mere $22 including shipping! That, my friends, is a steal. This is so much more fun that a trip to the mall for “shopping therapy” when I am blue, and doesn’t leave me with a credit card bill at the end of the month either.


I suspect I will find myself anxiously awaiting the availability of ne
xt month’s box weeks before it becomes available. I am also certain I will purchase these boxes in the future as gifts, and if I am unwilling to give a whole box as a gift the items would be awesome additions to gift baskets, stocking stuffers or just thoughtful pick-me-ups for friends.

Are there any drawbacks to Out of the Box you may ask? Yes, two. One is that there are enough products I know I will not have the supply exhausted in one month. And two, if I purchase a box as a gift for a friend it is unlikely I will be able to gift it without peeking inside first.
Michelle has a simple to maneuver website where you can find listings of all the contributors and any coupons they may be offering. She acknowledges orders very quickly and my box was shipped within 24 hours of my purchase.

I love this Friday Find and hope you all do too!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trusted

Trust is such a small word with huge meaning, if you really think about it. Every time we share something about ourselves it takes an act of trust. I put my phone number in the church directory because I trust it will not be misused. When I meet new people I share about my family and where I live and things I enjoy doing. I trust people generally, and since I always try to see the glass as half full I rarely suspect things I share will be used against me or cause me harm.

But there are definitely levels of trust. I probably wouldn’t trust everyone I call friend with my house for a week, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t trust them to get the mail. I have teenage babysitters who I trust for an evening with keeping our children, but would never have them do an overnight. I have some friends who earning trust is about as easy as pulling teeth with tweezers. That’s okay for them, and I am thrilled to have earned the trust of them. I have other friends like myself who trust first, and then only pull back if they experience something negative.

Today I got to enjoy a very high level of trust by one of my dear friends. I was entrusted to care for her most prized possession, the thing she experienced more pain and suffering to get, and she is likely willing to kill to protect. I am excited and honored to experience trust like this today.

Do you know what I was entrusted with?

Yes, a day with a precious three month old, especially for a mom who will never have one again, is an absolute blessing, and I appreciate that I am entrusted with a task such as this.


And in case my ability faltered Lola was "On Watch" the entire time!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Brookgreen Gardens Moments










These are two of the four readings which were read at Dad's memorial service. He would have loved these gardens.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Thinking

Today I am thinking about things…lots of them. The volume of thoughts is probably in direct correlation to the level of silence in my house. IT IS COMPLETELY QUIET! And I am loving it.

Currently bantering about in my head is what to do as a stay at home mom when the kids go back to school, which they both did yesterday. Obviously (I think), I should probably work on the list I had for summer projects but didn’t quite get done…or started for that matter.

What I am really spending the most time thinking about is how to most effectively manage my time. What will I be doing each day while I’m home, and what I will do on the days I am not at home? I foresee a high need for time flexibility in my future.

I am planning on substitute teaching for the school system. Since this can be a feast or famine job I know I need to plan for days of out of the home and days in the home, not knowing which will be more frequent.

Both schools have encouraged joining the PTA/PTL, which I will probably do…since the main purpose of leaving the rat race was to do mom stuff. The next question is how active do I want to be as a Classroom Mother…not sure yet on this one. I love both schools and want to spend time in both, but I’m not sure about this specific commitment. I do love, love, love the Learning Expeditions with the elementary school and will participate in as many of those as I can.

So what do I do at home…I’m thinking of creating my own chart for the minimum daily requirements for days spent out of the house and a separate list of things to do during days in the house. Knowing myself as well as I do I am certain nothing will get done if it is not on a list to be checked off (yeah, I’m that girl).

So as I go through this next week I will be prioritizing…laundry, exercise, ebaying, dog walking (vs. letting them play outside all day), scanning, sorting, purging, de-cluttering, shopping, pedicure-ing, reading, cooking, playing, praying, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Stay tuned for an update as to what is vital to our daily well being as well as which things can continue to be pushed on down the to do list.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to School

Somehow I was not expecting them both to be ready to head out the door at 6:30 am. Bless their excited little hearts!
She couldn't get out of the car fast enough. "Mommy there are other cars already here!!" Sparkle (Fluffy sleep friend) was thrilled to be out of the backpack before going in the school.

What an awesome way to enter your new Pre-K...through the fairy door. Standing still was not part of her plan for the morning.

Straight to the kitchen with this little girl...I suppose she will take after my Hero. She hardly took the time to tell a brokenhearted mama goodbye.

Wow! Does he look handsome or what?

I mean, not like I am biased or anything, but I do think he cleans up really well...what you can't see is some of Hero's cologne First Born needed for the first day of second grade.


Please don't go all independent on me!!!



The Posse...I can see the energy bubbling forth already!


Bless these babies as they go forth for their 0910 school year!

Hiatus

I have been on hiatus. Not only a blog hiatus, but a hiatus from a plethora of activities I normally partake. The past few weeks I have chucked all sense of self-discipline and productivity out the window, likely to the point of being self-destructive; and if not self-destructive most certainly not PRODUCTIVE!

The spectrum of things I have been hiating (yeah, I just made that a word) is broad. I haven’t been:

  • Blogging (which means tons and tons of “stuff” beating around in my head),
  • House cleaning (even with a every other week housekeeper I have maintenance I should take care of)
  • Cooking (even though my Hero does lot’s, I haven’t done any)
  • Laundry (yep, Hero caught that all up this weekend too)
  • Eating properly (that healthy diet was chucked out the window because I love Marble Slab and Banana Pudding Milkshakes)
  • Exercising (none…for over two weeks)
  • Reading
  • Daily Bible reading
  • Daily prayer time (yeah, I have forgone the dedicated prayer time…occasional chats have occurred)
  • De-cluttering (it’s been more like RE-cluttering)
  • Sleeping properly
  • Fully engaging with my children as often as I should
  • Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera

What have I been doing? That really is a good question, because as I look back over the past few weeks I kinda come up empty handed.

I did have the joy of spending time with a dear friend who has been part of my life for twenty-one years. That is mega special…maybe more on that later.

I have eaten crappy food, and lots of it. I have surfed the internet till I am cross-eyed and glazed over. I have played with my new BlackBerry Tour. Hmm, that’s about it. I have wasted hours and hours of time.

I don’t feel good about this wasted time. I am depressed and cranky, physically challenged, and emotionally drained. I have not served my spouse, my children, my friends or myself very well. And now I have to find the self-discipline to get back on track…ugh, why is it so easy to slack on a habit and lose the desire in a day and it takes twenty one days to build that habit back up? My brain is silently screaming “WHAT HAVE I DONE?”

Father God, thank you for loving me in spite of my shortcomings, my struggles, my stubbornness.

Today I pray for self-discipline to accomplish the things You desire for me. I pray restored passion for the things I love in life. I pray for this depression to be lifted and my happy spirit to be renewed and re-established. I pray for normal sleep patterns and sound night’s rest. I pray for will power, strength, patience and wisdom. You have called me to grow and I pray I put myself in the narrow path You have set before me.

I also pray for all who may read this post that they too may find strength and restoration in You, especially during the hectic times when worldly cares so easily take over and take hold. I claim peace for their lives, hedges of protection around them and their families, and blessings to rain down from Heaven.

In Jesus sweet, sweet name.

Amen