A Day Without a List!

List

My last post was about the wonderful gift of a snow day!  As much as I love snow days, I have an uncanny ability to spoil the day off for myself by trying to catch up on my never ending “to do” list . Before I know it, the day is over and I forgot to relax and sip hot chocolate curled up with a good book.  I was so mad at myself that I had “wasted” a perfectly good snow day working on laundry and housecleaning!  So this week when we were blessed with yet another snow day, I was determined that I was going to relax and make it everything I dreamed a perfect snow day should be!

I had been texting a childhood friend who also has the same Type A tendencies of not being able to sit down and relax.  She also works for a school and we agreed that if we both had a snow day, we would relax.  To me the perfect day would be one without a list.  You see, I LOVE lists and have multiple lists and even lists for my lists!  They keep me focused and productive but sometimes I just feel chained to it and would love to have a day where my life is not dictated by the next thing “to do”.  So on this snow day, the first rule was NO LIST!  I decided I would try to sleep in and then whatever I felt like doing, I would just do.  I had some ideas in my mind of what a snow day should look like (The sipping tea, reading a book, watching movies, baking chocolate chip cookies kind of day!) but decided that I would just kind of go with the flow and do what I felt like as the day passed.

After waking up at 6:00, I was able drift back into a deep slumber and slept in and then proceeded to have a leisurely day catching up on some reading, writing letters, exercising without feeling rushed and even a nap!  Before I knew it, the day was almost over and I felt accomplished in a different sort of way.  Although many things were left undone, for the first time in a while, I felt truly relaxed and re-charged.  Throughout the day, I had that antsy feeling that I should be doing something more productive, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I did feel much better.  (Sad to say my friend, who had been texting with me all day for relaxing accountability, only made it until 2:00 before she ditched out plan and went grocery shopping!  There is always next time!)  I survived a day without crossing something off my list!

For many years, I have tried to follow the commandment to keep Sunday a day of rest and worship.  This has always been difficult for me because after working full-time all week, I feel like I am always playing catch up on things that need to get done.  We attend worship regularly, but I need to continue working on the rest part after we leave church.  I want to focus on this because I think it will make a huge difference in how I feel as I start my week on Monday and beyond.  So no more lists on Sunday!  I want to make it a day of worship, rest and time with family and God.

I think (hope) our snowstorms are done for the year, so I’m very happy that I made the most of the last one for the season!  I hope you are all able to find some time to rest and relax this week.

~Blessings,
Jen

Reflections – Things I Learned in 2015

 

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Dear faithful readers,

It has been awhile since a posting has been made, but we haven’t gone away, just been busy with life.

I like to learn….I always have. School was fun for me, and college was even more fun as I was older and wiser and more interested. The other part of learning that I sometimes like, and sometimes don’t like, are life lessons. Some days it seems life is teaching us too much! I would like to share with you a few life lessons I learned in 2015.

  1. It really hurts to have a friend die young, and it’s incredibly hard watching his mother suffer. Death is not easy.
  2. Having surgery is not fun. I had two and hope that is it for the rest of my life. Take care of your health.
  3. Having had surgery I realize how many people cared and worried and prayed for me! Be grateful for family and friends.
  4. I am blessed with an incredible family both immediate and extended. I hear others talking about family feuds or yelling that goes on. There is none of that in our family, none. Even out to second and third cousins, we all have fun together. Make peace not war with your family.
  5. I’m blessed to have a family and people I can count on. I’ve met many people over the last year who really have no one and that is just terribly sad. Don’t stop talking to someone over stupid things.
  6. I can create and be easily inspired. Again, I’ve encountered a lot of people who can’t even tell you what they enjoy doing. Find a hobby.
  7. Pets are family, and losing one really hurts. There is no thing as, “it’s just a dog.”
  8. Laughter really is the best medicine. My friends and I from high school try to meet monthly for lunch. What a connection and what a LOT of laughing occurs at our lunches! Stay connected!
  9. Help other people. It really makes you feel good and lightens the load for other people. If you want to feel better, help someone else.
  10. Last, but not least, enjoy life. We only have today. Don’t fret with anxiety over things you not only have no control over, but things that may not ever happen. What a waste of energy. Live life to the fullest. Don’t hide.

I hope this has given you a few things to think about and contemplate. Here we are with another year beginning. My wish for you all, is that it’s the best one yet.

Happy New Year 2016

Julie

God Speaks To Us

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

                                                                                                                            John 10:27

Have you ever wished God would speak to you directly, like we read about in the Old Testament of the Bible?  When I pray, sometimes I wish I would hear a deep, booming voice that clearly answers my prayer or gives me words of wisdom and comfort.  We may not hear a concrete voice, but I’m convinced that God still speaks to us in a variety of ways.  I was witness to this over the past two weeks, as I grieved the loss of two very special Uncles.

My Uncle Claude had been admitted to the hospital and despite bouncing back many times, it seemed that he was getting weaker.  I was not ready to say good-bye and I felt so sad one evening.  It was then it came, a text out of nowhere, with a number that was not in my contact list,  saying, “Hey, how are you?”  I almost didn’t answer, but decided to ask who it was.  It turned out to be an old childhood friend that I hadn’t talked to in a while.  She was always around my family growing up and she knew my Uncle and even cleaned his house, so she was in the loop with what was going on with him, probably more so than me.  That night we texted back and forth and she shared some things with me about my Uncle and some conversations that they recently had that truly brought me so much comfort.  I knew that it was no coincidence that she texted me that night, she was sent to me by God to bring words of comfort and peace.

The next day, my Uncle Claude passed away.  I learned the news while I was at work and I did my best to hold it together.  Once my students had left for the day, I sat at my desk and was gathering my things to go home.  I wanted to make it to my car before I started crying.  Then my desk phone rang.  My phone hardly ever rings, unless it is an emergency and I had a silent debate in my head whether or not to answer it.  I decided to answer it but knew it was a mistake when my voice cracked and the tears I had been holding back all afternoon poured out.  Again, God sent his special message of comfort to me though this phone call.  It was my teaching partner I had worked with for five years, who was now at another school calling to say hi and see how I was doing.  She was just the person I needed at that moment to give me words of comfort and cheer.

I lost my Uncle Herb a few days later.  When we got the news, it was the same day we were going to the funeral home for my Uncle Claude.  We were all together as a family, grieving this loss and I could feel God there so close in the hugs from loved ones, the words spoken and the shared memories.  Being with my family helped sooth my heart.  Again, God provided comfort when I needed it most.  At my Uncle Herb’s funeral, the Pastor read many passages from the Bible that I felt spoke to me and offered comfort admist my grief.  The words were like a balm to my hurting heart.

I will miss both Uncles so much.  They were such kind, happy,  hard working men.  Both were farmers, treasured family and loved God.  I know they are at peace, home with the Lord and re-united with those who have gone before.  I find comfort in the promises of God during this time of grieving and am thankful for the way He sent a message of love and comfort to me during this difficult time through some very special people and His Word.

A few days before this loss, Little One and I saw this phenomenon, I later learned is called a Sun Dog, on our way to work and school.  It was like a rainbow coming right out of the frigid morning sky next to the rising sun.  It was brilliant and beautiful and looking back, I realize it was just another way God was letting me know He loves me and He is in control.  What an awesome God we have to give us such beauty to enjoy!  I also like to think that just maybe this was Heaven preparing a big party and celebration to welcome my Uncles home.

IMG_3655Blessings,

Jen

 

State Championship Moments

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The happy couple!

 

IMG_3001Our brother during the “Father-Daughter” Dance

A few weeks ago, my niece got married on a spectacular, fall day.  It was a day filled with celebration, love, fun and family.  At the reception, our brother surprised us all with a very poignant speech for the bride and groom with the theme of “State Championship moments”.  It was an amazing speech and he so graciously agreed to be be a guest writer for us and let us share his inspirational words with you!  I hope you enjoy this message as much as we did and it inspires you to look and be thankful for your own “State Championship moments” in life!

 

“…Now for a moment, I want to take you back in time to early fall 1979.  Myself and some of my friends  that are here tonight sat in our high school gym before our season opener and listened to our football coach tell us we had the talent to go all the way to a State Championship.  It was an awesome feeling to hear that.  To envision what that joy would be like was amazing.  Could it be?  Could it really happen?  We had some really great players but could we make it all the way to the Silver Dome?

Well as my friends will tell you… that was not to be.   I won’t bore you with the details but we ended up that season 0-9 -yes- ouch.  Potential State Champions 0-9.  One crushing loss after another.  Needless to say it was very disappointing.

Fast forward to 2009 and Katy introduces us to Scotty.  We found out Scotty went to the same high school as Katy  and played football there.  Not only that, but he was on the 2003  football State Championship team.   Of course, I am not thinking about whether this young man is suited to date my daughter or not.  I ‘m thinking WOW.  He experienced a state championship! HOW COOL! He experienced a State championship moment!  How lucky to experience that euphoria at one defining moment in your life.

Now as great as that experience would have been for my friends and I, I have come to realize that State Championship moments don’t always have to happen on the playing field.  I think back over my life and although I wasn’t  able to achieve the elation Scotty and his teammates had that day on the field, our family has had many State Championship like moments.

Of course there was a moment something like tonight back in 1988 when I married my wife.  It seems like just yesterday and it was a State Championship moment!

-There was another on April 15, 1990 when we welcomed Katy into this world.  It seems like just yesterday, that I was being scolded for eating in the delivery room while Sue was in labor.  But oh what a feeling to bring that beautiful baby girl into our life.!   Of course these moments were repeated by the birth of our two sons….For our youngest, I was scolded for watching the Bulls win the championship on TV while my Sue was in labor….a bit of a pattern there but  All State Championship moments!

Sometimes these State Championship moments aren’t momentous like weddings and births though. Sometimes they can be little things like our family get togethers on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, a family Christmas Celebration in Charleston where we all got to spend time with Grandpa,  before we lost him the next year.  Things like spending time with close, lifelong friends …just hanging out and enjoying each others company and sharing each others joys and concerns.  The importance of these friendships is something I learned from my father, spending many Saturday mornings at Kenny’s restaurant with him and his buddies having coffee.  Spending Quality one on one time with your daughter having lunch together over the years. Seeing your kids turn into amazing adults and making you proud beyond your imagination and just spending time with those you love and who matter the most to you.  These are all State Championship moments.

Katy and Scott, I want you both to have many of these moments in your life. Tonight is one for sure, more will follow.   Enjoy them all, both large and small.   Faith, Family, Friends, and your love for each other are the most important things.  Pay attention to those things and they will all be State Championship moments.

I’d like to raise a toast to Katy and Scott wishing them health, happiness, and many State Championship moments in the future.”

Well done big brother and thanks for sharing!!!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Friends

To start off with, I would appreciate some prayers for Jules, she has been down for the count with a bad case of  pneumonia.  She is doing better, but it is slow going.

 

I recently had the opportunity to get together with some friends I used to teach with years ago.  We all carpooled to work together and oh the conversations we used to have in that 30 minute drive!  I think it was better than therapy!  We usually only see each other once a year, but you wouldn’t know it when we get together because we never run out of things to talk about.  When we first met, we were all at different life stages.  We ranged from a new college graduate (me) to a Mom starting a new family, and a Mom with high schoolers.  Despite these differences, we hit it off and have been close friends for over twenty years!  Now I am the one with kids, one is a recent empty nester, and one a grandma.

What a gift from God friends are!  I have been blessed with so many dear friends throughout my life. I have  my family including Mom, my brother, sister, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, childhood friends, college friends, work friends, friends from our military days, playgroups and neighbors that have become friends.  It isn’t always easy to keep in touch with all of them, but I really try my best because these connections, these people are so important to me.  Each has brought something special to my life.

Social media has made re-connecting with friends a little easier, but there is still nothing better than seeing a friend in person.  When I got together with my friends over tea and treats, I could give them a hug, hear their laughter, see their smiles and look into their eyes and I felt really happy!  Sometimes it is hard to coordinate schedules and make it work, but I never regret getting together with friends.  It makes me feel alive, connected and joyful!

So whatever life stage you are in, I encourage you to nurture your current friendships and be on the lookout for new friendships.  That person sitting in the next cubicle, the new neighbor or classmate may have the potential to become a lifetime friend!

We haven’t shared any music in a while and this is one of my favorites with the theme of friends by Michael W. Smith:

~Blessings,

Jen

Just For The Fun of It!

Last night I took some time to do something just for the fun of it, and I had a blast!  It wasn’t easy, it involved  a little pre-planning for arranging kid swaps with the Mister, making dinner ahead and making sure things were all set at home, but I made it happen.  Jules is always saying how important it is to take some time for self-care (see this post) and I think she is right.  The happy feeling of the evening lasted well beyond the actual event.  So what did I do? Here is a little clue:

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My niece arranged for a group of us to attend a painting class at a place called Painting With a Twist.  We could bring our own snacks and beverages and the instructor gave us step by step directions on how to paint this picture.  It was a light, fun, creative atmosphere and it was great just to hang out and spend time with family and friends.  No painting experience was needed, all that was required was the ability to follow simple directions and willingness to let go of perfection and have some fun!  Here are Jules and I having some fun!

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The finished products.

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If you look closely, we even had some face painting fun!   So if you have been thinking about doing something just for fun, I encourage you to go ahead and do it!  Who knows, you might just discover a new passion or hobby!  What do you think of our “masterpieces”!

~Blessings,

Jen