Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime Hodgepodge

It's Hodgepodge Wednesday again and lately it seems that if it weren't for Joyce and her hodgepodge questions I wouldn't have much of a blog.  I'm trying to get caught up on some things around my house and am trying not to spend too much time on the computer.  I promise to be back again soon.  If you would like to join the hodgepodge, join Joyce here.

1. Summer's here-whoohoo! What's your favorite sight, sound, AND smell associated with summer?
There are so many to choose from, my senses love summer.  Fresh-cut grass, a thunderstorm, the ocean...these are a few of my favorite things.
2. Fireflies or lightning bugs...what are they called in your neck of the woods?
Lightning bugs ~ although we don't have them in Florida.  My kiddos recently discovered lightning bugs at our family reunion in Tennessee.  They loved them and wanted to catch them and bring them home.  I had to explain that those poor bugs wouldn't make it through the night and then the 10 hour drive home. 
3. What is something from the past week that reminded you of your childhood?
Saturday we took the kids to the beach and Hubby and I got out in the water and body surfed with the kiddos.  It was such great fun and I remember the many hours we spent in the ocean when I was little.  These days it is so tempting for me to grab a great book and sit on the shore and watch the kiddos play.  It was fun to go out and play as a family.  Later that evening it began to rain and I mean really rain hard.  I don't know what got into me, but as Hubby was looking out the front door, I ran out into the rain and spun around like a little girl, dancing in the ice cold rain.  I couldn't stay out there too long because it was cold coming down, but it felt so good to be so free.  Prince and Princess then begged to go out so I let them go do a little dance too. 
4. Define 'the good life'.
I am living the good life.  I get to work in ministry, at a job I enjoy, spend time with my children and husband, and live near my extended family. 
5. Tell us what we'd see if you took a snapshot of your desk/work space?
Pictures of my family, a snow globe from our trip to the beach, usually paperwork that needs to be filed, and my computer.
6. Peaches or watermelon...yes, you have to choose.
Oh, I don't want to choose.  When we lived in South Georgia we were 30 minutes from Cordele, the watermelon capital and just an hour from my favorite peach packing plant in Fort Valley.  I guess if I have to choose it would be peaches.
7. Ever been skinny dippin'? Is that too much for the Wednesday Hodgepodge? Rest assured we won't need details...unless of course you feel you must but remember, this is a family friendly blog so keep it G rated.

That would be a NO.  I'm just not that adventurous.  This does remind me of the part in Steel Magnolias when Julia Roberts is in the beauty shop and telling Truvy about her and her boyfriend skinny dippin' and she says, "we did things that would scare the fish."  I always thought that was funny. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Hubby and I are hooked on America's Got Talent.  Anyone else watch this show?  It's amazing what some people think can pass as a talent.  There are a lot of delusional people out there.

I'm not sure what is going on with Blogger but it is not letting me comment on my own blog or anyone else''s sending me back in circles.  UGH!  Please know I'm not being rude and just not commenting, I can't figure out why this isn't working!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Evening with the Queen

This week I am celebrating old friendships that have been rekindled...well, one friendship in particular.  Last night I got to catch up with The Queen of Brussels Sprouts.  We haven't seen each other in probably 15 years and it was so much fun to meet at our old hangout, eat a piece of pie, and just enjoy each other's company.  Queen and I spent a lot of time together in high school and were roommates for a semester in college.  Fun fact: Queen and I went to prom with two of our guy friends.  These guys also happened to be Hubby's best friends.  We may or may not have seen Hubby and his date arriving at Olive Garden as we were leaving and we may or may not have toilet papered Hubby's car out in the parking lot. 

Queen and her family are about to move to Alaska and have come home for a visit before the Army takes them 4 time zones away (I think it's 4) from here.  We only had a couple of hours together and then these two mamas were about to fall asleep while talking.  We have discovered that we can't stay up until all hours talking like we used to.  By 10:00 we were yawning and starting to lose steam and then by 10:30 we had to give it up and part ways.  I wish I had gotten our server to take our picture together, but we were so busy catching up that I forgot.  However, I have the snapshot of my long lost friend and our visit together in my mind.  I am so glad that we have reconnected through our blogs and emails and that we finally got to see each other in person after all of those years.
If you get a chance, stop by Queen's Blog and say hi.  She has a great way of "fiddling with" recipes to make them more healthy.  I know that as soon as they get settled in Alaska there she will share more wonderful recipes!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rocky Top Reunion

Last Thursday the kiddos and I loaded up with my parents and Mema and headed up the road to East Tennessee for a family reunion.  I had forgotten how long of a trip 11 hours in the car with two little kids can feel.  My was it a long day, but I have to say that the kids did well.  They didn't complain until we hit town in Lenoir City and it was 10 p.m. and they were exhausted. 
Our first day there we decided to go to the Children's Museum in Oak Ridge.  I didn't really know what to expect, having never been there before, but it was a great museum. 
Prince learned about the kinds of chore children used to do.

Princess pretended to be a bee keeper.

Prince and his cuz play in the rainforest.

All Aboard the Choo-Choo Train!  Here are the cuzins.

Grandma and Grandaddy pretend to ride the train.  My parents have this tradition that whenever we go anywhere and they have their picture made together, they also do a kissy picture.  In keeping with tradition, here it is:

They don't seem to know that there is a gigantic polar bear behind them.
That was pretty much our Friday. 

Saturday morning we went to the little museum in Lenoir City, which we'd never been to before.  It was neat to see some things that belonged to our relatives.  My Mema and her brothers and sisters grew up in that town.  I found high school yearbooks from my Mema's years.  Here is a picture of her senior picture:

Isn't she cute?!

Later in the day we met at Aunt Helen's house for the reunion.  It was a great day!  The kids all swam in the lake with their extended cousins, some of them meeting for the first time.

This is the same lake that I swam in when I was little and my mom swam in it when she was a kid.
Princess tried to learn how to skip rocks.

Prince and Princess both went tubing for the first time.  Prince was fearless and kept signaling with a thumbs up to go faster.  Princess was not convinced she wanted to do this once she got in the tube.  She barely got going before giving the thumbs down slow down signal.  She's my little scaredy cat and takes after her mom.  I think she did end up OK with it, but she said that she really didn't want to do it again until she is older.   

Cousin Rob went above and beyond to make sure everyone got a ride on the boat.  Isn't this beautiful?  So relaxing...

Here are the brothers and sisters.  My Mema is in the middle. 
My great-aunt Edna has gone to be with Jesus.  It doesn't seem right that she wasn't there.  She was the oldest sister and would have been sitting on the far right (they are sitting in age order).

Here is the whole group ~ at least those that could make it.  We counted 55 people there in all!
It was a great trip and I enjoyed getting to see everyone.  Hubby didn't get to go because he had to work so while I was glad we got to go, I was so glad to get home to Hubby.  I have gone on trips 3 consecutive weeks each lasting 4-5 days.  I am glad to be home for a bit, catch up on things and get back to a more normal routine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day Hodgepodge

It's Hodgepodge Wednesday and I am making it in just under the wire with my answers.  I'm totally out of my routine.  However, if you would like to join in with the Wednesday Hodgepodge, go see Joyce HERE and link up!

1. What is one thing on your bucket list? If you don't have a bucket list let's pretend you do.
I don't currently have a bucket list, but if I did, I would love to travel.  There are too many places I want to go to list them all. 

2. What makes a good dad?
A good dad invests in his family.  He supports his children and shows them unconditional love.  He spends time with his children, showing an interest in the things that his children are into.  A good dad also shows his children what it means to be a good husband by loving and supporting his wife.  I have been so blessed to have a good daddy and a good husband.

3. Are you afraid of insects? Which ones?
I wouldn't say that I am afraid of any insects, I just plain old don't like them. 

4. We're barbecuing...what's on the grill at your house?
We love to grill.  We grill burgers, steak, chicken, porkchops, hotdogs...
Incidentally, I like for Hubby to burn my hotdogs.  Yep, the more carcinogenic, the better.  Love me some burnt hotdogs. 

5. Do you believe that playing is more important than winning?
I think that playing is very important, people should be encouraged to try new things and to put themselves out there are participate.  I don't think that winning is everything, but I do think that if we don't teach our children how to win as well as how to lose, we are doing them a disservice.  Prince and Princess are playing softball right now and they don't keep score.  The bottom line for me is that in real life there are winners and losers.  You have to learn how to be a good winner and how to compete.  You also have to learn how to fail, pick up the pieces, and do better the next time until you win. 
These are my cute little softball players before their first game of the season.
6. Do you tan? Use self tanners? Visit tanning salons? See your dermatologist at least once a year?
I do like to have a sun tan but my skin is fair so I have to be careful.  I haven't been to the dermatologist in quite a few years.  That's probably something to put on my to do list.  I've been to so many other kinds of doctors in the last several years that some things haven't been as much of a priority.
7. Five years ago I would never imagine that today I would_______________.
have my own blog.  Of course five years ago I didn't really think I had much of a story to tell.  God has a way of working things out and you just never know what twists and turns your life will take.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I have been trying to rest up from lots of travelling.  Last weekend we spent 4 days in Tennessee for my family reunion.  It was so much fun and I have a lot to tell you about it, but I've been trying to catch up on laundry and sleep.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

His Grace is Enough

When Hubby and I were at Conference last week we sang one of my favorite songs "Your Grace is Enough."  If you aren't familiar with the song, the chorus says, "Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough for me."  I love this song because it is so true in its simplicity.  His grace is enough for me, for all of us.  If it weren't for God's unmerrited grace, I don't know where I'd be. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 says:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
Paul had a thorn in the flesh.  We don't know exactly what that was, but we know that he had acute physical pain.  We all have weaknesses in our lives, areas where we must rely on God to step in and work through it.  My battle with Crohn's Disease has been up and down and sometimes quite frankly gets in the way of what I want to do.  BUT, His grace is sufficient.  He finds ways to work in and through our weaknesses.  I grew up singing "Amazing Grace," but didn't truly know what that grace was all about until I was too sick to get out of the bed and had to rely on Him to get me through each day.  He has used my illness as a testimony to His faithfulness to His people.  God always keeps His promises and He still performs miracles in ordinary people.   You can read more about God's amazing grace HERE.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Hodge Podge

It's Hodgepodge Wednesday!  If it weren't for Joyce, I wouldn't have a consistent Wednesday post.  Everybody to over to give a shout out to Joyce ~ but first read my answers below.

1. Do you and your family enjoy camping? What do you enjoy most/like the least when it comes to family camping? When was the last time you camped?

We have not camped since the kids were born.  Hubby and I used to camp with my in-laws when we were dating and first married.  The problem is that Hubby and I both think that our idea of camping is at the Hampton Inn.  My favorite thing about camping is sitting around the campfire at night.  My least favorite thing about camping is probably everything else...the bugs, the dirt, not having indoor plumbing, sleeping on the ground...
2. Did you attend a summer camp when you were a kid? Is that a happy or not so happy memory?
I attended church camp for a week each summer when I was in youth group.  Those are some happy memories, although I also remember getting homesick some as well.  I used to meet my friend Suzanne there each year.  She had moved away to a different part of Florida but we would meet there and rekindle our friendship each summer. 
Also, in high school, I went to band camp each summer.  Hubby likes to tease me and say, "This one time at band camp..." Yes, I was a band nerd and in fact at one time I was "Queen of the Band Nerds," as I was drum major also.  Those were some great times in my life and I made many friends.
3. Over the course of your life, what have you probably spent more time pondering than anything else?
I think I have probably pondered God's plan and will for my life more than anything else.  I want to live a life that is pleasing to Him and I am constantly assessing whether or not my words and actions are in line with His will.
4. Which of the seven natural wonders of the world would you most like to see? There are many lists of 'wonders' but this is the standard natural wonder list-Mount Everest, The Great Barrier Reef, The Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls, The Harbor of Rio de Janerio, Paricutan Volcano and The Northern Lights.
This is a tough decision for me to make...I would love to see all of them of course, but I guess the one I would like to see the most would be The Northern Lights.

5. What was your first real job?
I did a lot of babysitting and worked at a few retail places very part-time in college but my first real job was teaching in a self-contained learning disabilities class, K-2 grades.  I loved that little class.
6. Lemonade or Sweet tea...which do you prefer on a hot summer day?
Sweet tea (pronounced swayt tay ~ you have to have the long a sound in there)

7. What is something that always brings a smile to your face?
Hearing belly laughs from little kids...especially mine and the sight of these two little faces:

8. Insert your own random thought here.
We are packing up to go, yet again!  It's been a busy summer.  This time, the kiddos and I are heading up to Tennessee with my parents and Mema for a family reunion.  Hubby doesn't get to go because he took last week off to go to Conference with me and he has to stay and work.  I am looking forward to spending time with my great-aunts and uncles and cousins.  We don't get to see each other nearly enough.  We're going to rough it at the Hampton Inn ~ that's my idea of camping!
These are my the aunts and uncles at our wedding almost 10 years ago.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Promise of An Angel ~ Book Review

Judith Fischer has been raised in Mecosta County, Michigan in an Amish Community.  She is nineteen years old and has been waiting for her parents' permission for Levi to court her.  She believes Levi is the love of her life. 
Samuel, Judith's younger brother tragically falls off of a barn roof and is paralyzed.  Judith blames herself, as she was distracted and not watching her brother as carefully as she otherwise might.  After the accident, Judith sees a man kneeling beside her brother.  She follows him and declares to others that she has seen an angel, who told her that Samuel would walk again.  The elders in her community cast her aside, saying she is telling stories.  Judith's faith in God is tested as are her relationships with others in the community.  If she can learn to trust others, she just might find that God has someone else in mind for her future husband.  I admired Judith's ability to stand firm in her convictions in spite of difficult circumstances and the chastisement of her parents and elders in her community.  We could all learn a lesson of faith from her.

This is Ruth Reid's first book in the Heaven on Earth series. This was a quick read and I enjoyed getting to know the characters of this small Amish community.  Thankfully, there is a Pennsylvania Dutch glossary included in the book to help with Amish terms that are unfamiliar to me.  I am excited to see what will come next in this series. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Annual Conference Recap

I'm back!  Annual Conference was extremely busy but such a wonderful experience.  I kept thinking about how Jesus said, "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst."  Yes, the Holy Spirit was there, moving this body as we asked for His presence and discernment in electing delegates for General and Jurisdictional Conference next year.  We voted, worshiped, voted, heard committee reports, and voted some more.  We did a lot of voting and finally finished selecting delegates on Saturday morning, the last day of the conference.  There were 11 laity and 11 clergy selected to go to General Conference next April, 11 additional laity and 11 additional clergy selected to represent at Jurisdictional Conference in North Carolina next July, and 7 each laity and clergy to serve as alternates.  I was elected as an alternate for Jurisdictional Conference.  Jurisdictional Conference is important because this is where the bishops are elected and there will be 5 new bishops elected next year in the Southeast Jurisdiction, one of them being in Florida, as our Bishop Whitaker will be retiring.  I will attend all of the meetings, however, I won't have a vote unless others are unable to fulfill their commitments.  It is an honor for Hubby and I to represent our church and our district.

I'm pretty sure our congregation knows this, but it needs to be said:  Conference-wide, Pastor David is so well respected and loved.  We have been blessed to have him in leadership.  As I met and spoke with people at Conference, one of the first things people ask is what church you are from.  When I told them, they would all say, "Oh, David is your pastor.  We just love him!" or "I can't believe David is retiring, you are so blessed to have had him as your pastor."  We all know how much we love him, but he and Donna are loved throughout the Florida Conference.  As Trish mentioned in worship yesterday, we attended a retirement service for David on Friday afternoon. 

You can click on the link below to hear what David wrote about his ministry.  As each minister and spouse came up, someone read about their ministry.  We were so proud to stand when David's name was called.  The video was taken with my phone, so you can't see much, but you can hear it. 

After all of the retiring pastors had been recognized they joined together at a round table in the middle of the room and lit candles.  The retiring pastors then lit the candles of all of those who had been ordained this conference.

The theme of Annual Conference was "Living as Peacemakers."  On Wednesday evening we attended worship and communion and were blessed to hear Bishop Ricardo Pereira, from the Methodist Church in Cuba.  He is such a dynamic preacher and the Methodist Church in Cuba is growing by leaps and bounds.  He told story after story about how they are making disciples of Jesus Christ in spite of political opposition and their churches are growing!  Thursday evening we brought our kids with us for the hymn sing and to hear Bishop Whitaker preach.  Princess said she wanted to come and support her Mommy while people were voting for delegates.  It was a sweet moment when she prayed that I would win and be a delegate and it made me realize how important it is for me to be a part of leadership of our church because my children are watching...they watch everything we do or don't do.  It brought tears to my eyes to have my very own little Princess tell me she is proud of me and that she hoped I would win. 
Bishop Whitaker preached on "Churchcraft."  Churchcraft, what used to be known as "churchmanship," is the craft of building up the church.  He pointed to Paul, 1 Corin. 3:10 " By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds."  We must be intentional with what we are building.  Our goal is not to see how many people we can get to join our church.  In fact, Bishop Whitaker says that we should not be using the term "joining the church" because joining something isn't the same thing as becoming a member.  Becoming a member of a church means that you are a part of it and are involved in the body.  When we take our membership vows, we pledge our time, talents and gifts.  We say we will do everything in our power to strengthen the church's ministries.  He pointed to the vows taken in the A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) church, saying that their questions and answers are more detailed than ours and more like the original Methodist intent and questions.  Membership is not loyalty to a program or a person.  IT is a covenant relationshiop with the congregation. 
Bishop Whitaker stressed healthy communication within churches and gave 6 points for healthy communication.
1.  Learn to disagree agreeably.
2.  Speak directly to individuals or groups to address concerns you may have.
3.  Never ask someone else to address your concerns and never agree to address someone else's concerns for them.  It is important that the person with the concerns go directly and address them. (See #2)
4.  Don't create a triangle of communication where you involve yourself in trying to mediate a situation and you end up with a victim, persecutor, rescuer situation.
5.  Don't communicate anonymously or play attention to others' anonymous communication.
6.  Try to teach others appropriate, healthy communication.
*My own observation ~ wouldn't things be a lot simpler around here if everyone abided by these key points?  We would all approach each other with love and we may have to agree to disagree, but there wouldn't be the misunderstandings and hurt feelings of he said/ she said.  Just a thought...

In closing, Bishop Whitaker stressed that our Churchcraft needs to serve our mission.  The mission of the Untied Methodist Church is: Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World. 

I think Pastor David has done a great job in our refocusing groups of helping us to evaluate our ministries and how we are going about making disciples in the ministries of this church.  It is important that we continue to evaluate those ministry opportunities and how they fit in with the mission of the church.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday Hodge Podge

It's Wednesday Hodge Podge time again!  I took last Wednesday off.  I started answering the questions and then I got extremely busy and by the time I thought about posting them it was Friday.  So I opted not to post last week.  If you would like to join in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, link up HERE with Joyce.

1. Have you ever been to the US capital-Washington DC? If so, what's your favorite site? If not, what would you most like to see on a visit to that city someday in the future? Is it even on your list of places to visit?

I have been to DC twice ~ the first time was the summer before 7th grade and the last time was my senior year of high school.  Fun fact: The last time I was in DC was on a band trip with The Queen of Brussels Sprouts.  Boy was that a fun trip! 

Queen is on the far left and I am standing next to her.  I think we were at Mt. Vernon in this picture.  I'm not sure why you can't see more scenery to tell where we were.
I really want to go back, as Hubby and I love all things American History and it has been so long since I have been there. 
2. When did you last attend a wedding? Are there any weddings on your summer calendar? Were you a summer bride? If you're single, is summer the season of your dream wedding?
The last wedding I attended was a little over a year ago.  I don't have any weddings coming up either.  I did not get married in the summer...we were married in March.  Summer is too hot in Florida to get're sweating bullets.

3. What is your favorite way to eat strawberries?
I just like to pull off the green stems and eat them fresh and plain.  They are so good and sweet ~ nothing else is needed!
4. What is one thing you are especially looking forward to this summer?
Our week-long beach vacation in July.  Can't wait! 
5. Do you use/like the self checker at the grocery store?
I do like to use the self checker at the store sometimes.  Hubby hates the things and won't go near them unless there isn't a choice.  My regular grocery store does not have a self check-out lane and that's fine because the cashiers are so friendly.  However, the two or three times a year I go to Wal-Mart I usually end up at the self check-out.  I think it is so annoying when it tells you to place your item in the bagging area and it's already there but the sensor doesn't detect it or else it doesn't need a bag but the machine still freaks out. 
6. Share a favorite piece of common sense advice.
Don't bite off more than you can chew.  I'm still working on taking my own advice, by the way!
7. Barefoot, flip flops, tennis shoes, sassy sandals-your first choice for summertime?
Barefoot ~ it's such a freeing feeling!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been doing lots of summer reading and I love it!  I am always reading something, but in the summer I have more time and I tend to really devour books.  I'm currently reading two books, Heaven is for Real, and The Promise of an Angel. 
Also, I watched the episode of Cake Boss when he came to the Space Center and did the shuttle cake.  In one scene I could pause and see Hubby, the kids, my Mema and me sitting in the audience.  You had to know where to look though and even then it was so quick that I had to rewind and pause to see it.  It was exciting knowing that I was there though.