Thursday, May 31, 2007
I know I've mentioned that I work with the Kindergarten children's choir at church. Last Wednesday night we had our end of the year program. The parents of a set of twins that we had this year gave us all gift cards to Carraba's at Christmas ($$$$...WOW!), so we decided to find a night after the choir year was over to all go to dinner together, just to spend time together and to spend time with a friend who works in choir with us that will probably be moving sometime in the next few months because of her husband's job. What a fun night it turned out to be! It's funny how you can work with people week after week and not really get time to talk to them! We all just talked, laughed and genuinely enjoyed our time together. It really was a very fun night....but shame on me....I forgot to take my camera! Terri, the teacher of our class, took hers though and we did get a group shot, but she doesn't know how to e-mail it to me, so I am going to work on somehow getting that done so I can post it. From what I saw, it looked like a good picture of everyone, and when you have 11 people, that isn't always an easy task! Hopefully I can get that done soon. It was definitely a fun night though.
Another great thing today...I have decided I am going to try to work in to my budget every couple of weeks to have someone cut my grass and, when it needs it, do the edging and weedeating, etc. He came today for the first time and although it was dark when I got home, from what I can tell, it looks FABULOUS! I walked down my driveway and around the sidewalk all bent over so I could see how neat the edging is.....I have been here about 2.5 years and have never edged! EEK! My yard looks all neat and 'kept' looking...much better than it has when I've done it myself. I can't WAIT for the sun to come up in the morning so I can see it in the sunlight. Right now, I am pretty determined to get it worked into my budget....even if I have to cut a social activity or two to get it done. There are some HOT days here in the summer and cutting grass with a push mower is NOT one of my favorite activities! :-)
I believe I am picking Grace up at school tomorrow, but she is definitely spending the night with me. Kate is having 3 friends spend the night with her tomorrow night, so I am having Grace over here so the 'big girls' can have time for themselves. Actually, I have Kate and Grace over to spend the night periodically, always separately though because I love my time with each of them so much. I always prefer to do it when the other is busy because I feel guilty and it makes me sad leaving with one of them when the other is sitting there longing to go too! (I'm acting like I'm some kind of prize, aren't I???? haha!) I know Grace and I have some running around to do...and she wants to get a new toothbrush to have here....she believes she's outgrown the one she has here now! :-)
I'll keep you posted on what we do. I'm eager to see what she has in mind myself...I am SURE there will not be a dull moment!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Here's Grace laughing at what her teacher was saying...
can't you just see her excitement?
...and here it is.....her award.....
for MOST HUMOROUS! ha! I could have told you that!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The other side of the story is that I had plans to attend a funeral this morning, and that wound up being where I needed to be for a couple of reasons. As I sat there listening to the words of my friend who spoke, the two preachers that spoke, etc, I just thought about how much THAT was right where I needed to be at that moment in time, for my friend and for myself. Although I had no intention of changing my plans of attending this funeral, I had been a little disheartened that my sister hadn't told me about Kate's thing, but really, God knew what He was doing in not having my sister tell me about it. Everything worked out just like is was supposed to and I had to admit that to my sister tonight. Kate will have other things for me to attend over time, but this was the one time my friend would experience this loss and the one time I could be there for her, to support her, for that reason.
I LOVE when I can see where God has worked when I may not have realized it at the time.
Today was one of those days. I am thankful.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I have a friend who is going through a difficult time. Nothing really new, but troubling nonetheless. We had dinner with some other friends tonight, but as I was driving home, I felt compelled to give her a call even though I’d just seen her. I didn’t say much, just that I was sorry she was having to deal with all she’s dealing with, etc. She talked some, but she also just broke down into tears. I have learned over time that there isn’t always anything that can be done except to just ‘be there’ for others, but sometimes that is the most and the best that can be done. Although this topic of ‘encouragement’ is frequently on my mind, it did get me to thinking about ways to encourage others again. I found the following on the internet tonight and thought it had some good suggestions. I would imagine we all have probably thought of or done a number of these for others from time to time, but some were things that I know I need to ‘fine tune,’ so I thought I’d post them here in hopes that maybe someone else can use them to encourage others as well.
19 Ways to Encourage Others
by Stacy Wiebe
Encouragement goes straight to the heart. In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix "en" which means "to put into" and the Latin word "cor" which means heart. Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others "to take heart" when the going gets tough and way feels long?
Become aware of what encourages you, and do those same things for others.
Learn individuals' "love language"-the special way in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Languages of Love, Gary Chapman explains that not everyone's emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it's important to learn to speak others' love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, spending quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.
If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don't let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit: "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…" (Hebrews 3:13).
When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise for the person's abilities, accomplishments, about how they've helped you or about the nature of your relationship. It's encouraging to be praised in front of others.*
When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help. If you ask, "How can I help?" the person might be at a loss to answer. It's better to ask, "Would it help if I…(specific action) or say, "I would like to…(specific action)?*
Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God and characteristics of God. We may know something with our mind, but need to be reminded in our heart. The Apostle Peter wrote, "I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have" (2 Peter 1:12).
Write someone a note to tell them that you're praying for them. Tell them what you're praying. You can pray specific Scriptures for individuals such as Romans 15:13, "[I pray that] the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. Celebrate others' victories, large and small-with a note, with coffee together, with a special meal, a congratulatory phone call or just a high-five!
Be specific when you offer words of praise; it makes your encouragement more credible and concrete "You did a great job at…" "I really appreciate that you…" "I was really impressed that you…"
Encourage other believers with a reminder of Christ's coming. It redirects our thinking to an eternal perspective and ultimate deliverance from the sin and death. "We who are still alive and are left will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words" (1 Thessalonians 5:17b-18).
Realize the power of presence. Just being there is encouraging! When you're with others, you're telling them that they're important. The Apostle Paul closed his letter to the church at Colosse promising to send his friend Tychius "that he may encourage your hearts" (Colossians 4:8b).
If you're part of a church, Bible study or fellowship, be committed to showing up. Your simple presence encourages others that they are part of a community of faith and that they are not alone. That's why the writer of Hebrews says, "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).
If someone you know is working on a large project, send her a single flower to encourage her at the beginning of the project, and a full bouquet when it's done.*
Use encouragement as an outreach. If anyone should be known for being an encourager, it should be the Christian. Write a letter of appreciation to people at work, your apartment manager, your child's teacher or your doctor. Often when we interact with these people, we are asking for their services. Take time just to say thank you!*
If you really want to encourage someone who gives you excellent service, write a letter of commendation to the person's boss.*
We could learn something from the way team athletes freely pat, touch and high-five each other in competition. Touch is a powerful encouragement. Be sure to be sensitive in this area, though. Ask someone if you can hug her first.
When you see someone making positive changes in their lives, affirm them. "You seem to have a really great attitude about…" "It may be that I'm just starting to take notice, but I see that you're…" "Do you think that you are becoming more…?"
Tell people how they've encouraged you!
Walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to give you what you need to encourage others. Just as it is impossible to live the Christian life in one's own strength, it's also impossible to freely, unselfishly pour out encouragement without the help of the Holy Spirit who is our Encourager.
I would be curious if you have any other suggestions or ways that others have encouraged you. It is certainly something we all need from time to time!
Friday, May 25, 2007
My sweet 7th grade niece, Kate, had a chorus concert Tuesday night. We were too far away to get any good pictures, but I did zoom in and got this one that I've worked on to hopefully get decent enough to see. She was an adorable little girl that captured my heart from the start, but now she's growing into a precious young woman as well. They sang a couple of songs that they'd done at a competition earlier this year on which they received superior ratings, a medly of some Disney songs, then they combined with the band and sang 'America the Beautiful.' By the end of that, many of us in the audience were singing along. It was a sweet way to end the concert, especially in light of all that is going on in the world right now. Of course, they were very good and I was as proud as I could be, but I sat there part of the time with tears in my eyes thinking that this time next year, they will be moving. I am going to HAVE to get a grip on myself, but right now, I just don't see it happening.
Wednesday night, we had our preschool children's choir program at church. I work with the Kindergarten class and it went very well. I thought about trying to get a picture of them in their cute little outfits, but as busy as that night was and as active and excited as they were, I was glad just to emerge with breath in my body! :-) I'll suffice it to say they did a great job.
Yesterday, I took a vacation day from work and went to my friend Chris' graduation. (He's the son of my friend Gina, but he's a friend of mine in his own right.) He goes to a Christian school that only goes thru 8th grade, so this was his last year there. He'd been attending there for 10 years....since 4 year Pre-K or something and there was only one other person in his class that had been there longer!
I just couldn't get enough of his handsome face!
There were only about 12 - 14 people in his class and Chris and his
friend Lance were the only 2 boys!
This is me and Chris at his house after we'd gone to lunch to
celebrate with his parents, grandparents and his aunt that
is here from out of town. Cracker Barrel...YUM! :-)
We had fun. He's a great young man.
I just can't believe how much he towers over me now!
I'm proud of him and proud to call him my friend. I can't wait to
see what God has in store for his life.
Lastly, I don't have any pictures from this, but I went to a high school graduation last night for my friend Joan's daughter, Brittany. She also attended a Christian school and I think that was probably the sweetest high school graduation ceremony I have ever attended. Joan and her husband were clients where I work for years and we struck up a great friendship that continues to this day. When they came to our firm, Brittany was just a little, little girl and it's wonderful to see what a great young woman she has become. I was very proud of her last night too!
So that has been my week in a nutshell...just running, running, running. It hasn't beeen my intent not to blog, it just takes me SO long to gather my thoughts, even for a quick post....what can I say?
I'll do better....and thanks for missing me (those of you who did anyway)! :-)
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Well, here's another thing I've realized as an adult: I was not a smart kid! :-) People who go to them are NOT always as 'poor' as I thought....and it is not always a great, fun thing to pay full price for something I want! NOW, I pride myself when I can get a real deal on something I can't wait to call my own! :-) Funny how times change!
Long story short....the neighborhood my friend Gina's sister-in-law, Wendy, lives in had a neighborhood yard sale today. Anyone who wanted to participate could and it was at each person's house throughout the neighborhood. Wendy had to leave to go to her son's baseball banquet this morning, so Gina took some stuff over and was going to watch things for Wendy while she was gone. I had told Gina I'd come over and keep her company while Wendy was gone, so I got there about 10:00. There were LOADS of people there. Gina's son, Chris, was also there selling some old guns and toys that he's outgrown. Gina had clothes, some household goods, things she'd cleaned out of a camper they just bought, etc. As I was sitting there watching Gina and Chris make money hand over fist, I remembered that I had some things in my trunk that my sister had given me months ago to take to Goodwill.....so Chris helped me get those things out and I sold some of them myself!! Some of the clothes my sister had given me still had the tags on them and I sold them for .50 each! I had clothes and books mostly that sold, but when I got ready to leave, I had made about $13 - $14 off my sister's stuff! :-) I had bought some of the kids books that I sold to have at my house when my nieces were younger and they were still just like brand new, but those were the only things that I had paid for myself. I know for a fact that some deals were gotten today from Gina, Chris, Wendy and me....and Wendy's neighborhood is having another one on October 14! My mind is already thinking about what I can take over there then. I'd better start getting my stuff together now!
Seriously, before it was over, my friend Gina and I were planning to pick a weekend in the next month or so to go 'yard sale-ing' ourselves....after all, 'One man's junk is another man's treasure,' huh? Who knows what we'll find! :-)
(And for those of you who may ask, I am not going to tell my sister that I sold her stuff and made money unless it comes up. They are in Florida this weekend looking at land to build their house on so they can move in a year or so and I'm dreading that, so the way I figure it, that's what they get!) :-) (just kidding of course, but I'm probably really NOT going to mention it!)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Grace and her 'best teacher ever'...Ms Thompson. (I love her too...she's GREAT! Lots of working as a 'team' in her class and Grace told me today that she likes Ms Thompson because she makes her work hard on her schoolwork! Go figure!)
Bein' sweet with her friend, Kara.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
A little goodie I found while perusing the internet:
I have seen repeatedly the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way. It's nice, really nice!
The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years old, and came up $160,140! That doesn't even touch college tuition. For those with kids, that figure leads to wild fantasies about all the money we could have banked if not for (insert your child's name here). For others, that number might confirm the decision to remain childless.
But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into $8,896.66a year, $741.38 a month, or $171.08 a week. That's a mere $24.44 a day! Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you might think the best financial advice saysdon't have children if you want to be "rich".
It is just the opposite. What do your get for your $160,140? Naming rights. First, middle, and last. Glimpses of God every day. Giggles under the covers every night. More love than your heart can hold. Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs. Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies. A hand to hold, usually covered with jam. A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites, building sand castles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring rain. Someone to laugh yourself silly with no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and-seek, catch lightningbugs, and never stop believing in Santa Claus. You have an excuse to keep: reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh, watching Saturday morning cartoons, going to Disney movies, and wishing on stars. You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.
For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof, taking the training wheels off the bike, removing a splinter, filling the wading pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless. You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step, first word, first bra, first date, and first time behind the wheel. You get to be immortal.You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice and communications that no college can match.
In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there with God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
On that note, I was driving home on Tuesday night this week, after I'd been to Grace's 'spirit night' at Chick-Fil-A, thinking about how excited I was to get home and check everyone's blog for the evening. I think I realized then, maybe for the first time, how connected I'm beginning to feel to my blogger friends. It's kinda weird because Tracey is the only one I personally know who reads any of this on a regular basis and I'd tell her most anything anyway, but I've really come to look forward to knowing what is going on, the struggles and the good times, in the lives of so many people that I've never even met! Isn't that funny? I just like reading peoples' thoughts, 'real life' stories, and the things God is teaching so many people. They are encouraging, thought provoking, inspiring and funny. As for me, somehow it is easier for me to get my thoughts out in writing than it is in speech sometimes, and I have a feeling that my nieces' moving next year will definitely fall into that category....I am sure there will be MANY posts about that! I mean, a friend of mine just mentioned, MENTIONED, to me at church Sunday night that they'd heard my sister talking about moving next year at the school last week and I burst into tears right there on the spot! I mean, it is a year away and I'm already messed up about it sometimes, so I have NO idea what I will be like when it actually happens! I can see already that writing is going to be great therapy.....
I guess, after sharing all that, what I most want to say is thanks to all of you who make this such a fun experience. I'm most grateful for the things in your life that you've shared with me...but for the encouragement, camera, CD and Netflix recommendations, etc, that you've given me, I am also thankful. I really do feel like I've gained, and am gaining, new friends...and I know that is no accident.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
First of all, my apologies to Tracey for using this 'Kodak moment,' but I tried to find camera images that were what I wanted and they all were too blurry, so I started brain-storming 'Kodak moments' and thought I would re-post this picture from when I went to see Tracey back in December....It makes me laugh just looking at it, so I had to use it! :-) We were laughing SO hard trying to get a good picture....but we usually DO laugh this hard at some point when we are together anyway. It's nice to have friends who just 'get' you!
Also, I wanted to let you know that I saw my friend Carla at church this morning and she said she had a wonderful visit with her friend on Thursday, so thanks to those of you who remembered them. She knows without a doubt that God is at work in a HUGE way, and so does this friend of hers. I will keep you posted on them from time to time, but please continue to say a prayer for them anytime they may come to mind.
Friday, May 04, 2007
After the survivor lap, they had them do another lap with their caregivers....well....again.....BOO HOO! I don't know why I just cannot pull myself together during things like this, but I just can't. I have a friend who has been seriously battling cancer for 6.5 years now and just knowing her story as personally as I do drives home what I know so many of these families have dealt with....and it's just very touching. So there we were, clapping, cheering them on, and crying even more!
Anyway, as emotional as tonight was, it was a good night. It makes me grateful to know that people really do care and how many people are so responsive to such a worthy cause. I would imagine that it is a RARE person who has not had their life touched by cancer in some way, whether through a family member, friend or acquaintance. It is one of my biggest prayers that we will soon see some sort of answer or cure for this disease....tomorrow would not be soon enough!
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I've been thinking a lot lately about friendships and the ministry opportunities involved in times of crisis. I included in a recent post a story about a wife and mother who had lost her husband and two of her teenage sons in a plane crash last week. Well, when we were at choir last Wednesday night, my friend Carla told us that she was friends with the mom and her son was friends with the boys that were killed. She just asked us to remember them because it had been VERY difficult. Knowing that Carla was friends with this woman, I had already began praying that God would use her to minister in this situation. I sent Carla a note sharing these things with her last week, so when I spoke with her tonight, she said that she is going to see this friend tomorrow and asked me to pray for her and this visit. Besides the hurt and loss of all this, she feels that a door is open to discuss salvation a bit moreso than it has been in the past and she wants to have the opportunity and boldness to walk through it. There is no doubt that this friend is hurting and probably seeking more openly than ever before, so I wanted to ask my 'blogger buddies' to pray for Carla and this friend tomorrow too. We never know why God puts us in situations or in relationships with other people sometimes, but when things like this happen, there can't be too much doubt. I can't help but to believe that Carla's friendship, life, example and convictions are the things that are leading this friend to seek her out and reach out to her at this moment in time, I just pray that HE will move and speak through her like never before.
I know that I can count on the few of you who read this blog to pray for them tomorrow....that means a lot and I am grateful for you!
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Some of the mulch has washed away, but these are little puffy things that I have NO idea the name of, and some day lilies. There are also day lilies by the walkway leading to the door. This doesn't look as fabulous as they do in real life either, but you get the idea!
(There are more plants along the sides of my house and in the back, but I'll save those for later...no sense boring you all at once!) :-)
And this is my lazy cat who I also love!
Anyway, like I said, 'it ain't much but it's home.' When I think about the fact that I am single and have one income, it doesn't take much to look around and see what God has allowed me in this life and I am one grateful girl!
Life is good!