Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wanna Be Like My Jesus

For almost a year now, the pastors of Southside Fellowship have been teaching through the Gospel of Mark in a series called “Real Jesus Real Life”. A focus of this teaching has been dispelling our own personal ideas of who Jesus is and replacing any false ideas of Jesus with the true Jesus as depicted in Scripture. The teaching has been phenomenal, and I often find myself thinking “Why do I believe that about Jesus?” or “Why do I put Jesus in a Rachelle-sized box?”

I’ve been listening to the musical genius of Todd Agnew today, and I love his song “My Jesus.” The lyrics challenge me, particularly my perception of Jesus, even more particularly the way I neglect to imitate the Christ of Scripture.

Todd references these verses in Ephesians: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:1-2). I challenge you to reflect on these two verses and read through the lyrics of “My Jesus”. I hope you’ll find yourself asking questions similar to my own:

How well do I imitate Christ when I shirk back in fear as a homeless person asks for some spare change?

How well do I imitate Christ when I stare judgmentally at a woman who is immodestly dressed?

How well do I imitate Christ when I meet women who are trapped and suffering in abusive relationships?

How well do I imitate Christ when my heartbroken waitress shares her story with me?

Am I seeking the wealth of this world, or do I hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Do I bow down to the American dream, or do I submit my life to my Savior?

Do I imitate the Rachelle-sized Jesus I’ve created in my mind, or do I imitate the true Jesus of Scripture – the Jesus who laid down His life for the “least of these”?

How much am I willing to sacrifice in order to be like Jesus? He went as far as sacrificing His own life for me.

My Jesus by Todd Agnew

Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a poster child for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like my Jesus

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hold the Light

I'm listening to the song "Hold the Light" by Caedmon's Call. It encapsulates so many of the thoughts and feelings I have had over the last couple of years. I just thought I'd share it with you. Maybe you're in the position of the person singing, or maybe you're in the position of the friend holding the light, or maybe you're in the middle somewhere. Wherever you are, I hope you're encouraged. :O)

It's been a long year
Like a long sleepless night.
Jacob wrestled the angel,
but I'm too tired to fight.

Every wednesdayfor two years we've met.
I've showed you all my anger
my doubts and bitterness.

There was no judgement in your eyes
just the silent peace of God,
that felt so real in you.

Will you hold the light for me?
Will you hold the light for me?

And I stay up late
because I cannot sleep.
I don't want to face the quiet
where its just God and me.

I'm waiting for the gavel
handing me the sentence down,
because I don't believe forgiveness
or even repentance now.

There was no judgement in your eyes
Just the silent peace of God,
that felt so real in you.

Will you hold the light for me?
Will you hold the light for me?

I want to feel redemption
flowing through my veins.
I want to see with clear eyes
beyond lust and hate.
I want the war to be over,
and know the good guys won,
and I want love to hold me
to know I'm not alone.

Standing around a willow weeping,
we were praying in the backyard.
In the chill of the night
the friendship light reminded me who we are...
who we are, who we are

Will you hold the light?
Will you hold the light for me?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Purposeful Not Passive

A few minutes ago, I went through Day 2 of the devotion that Pastor Brian put together for this week. The focal passage is Mark 9:30-37, with the particular emphasis of this day's devotion being 9:31 (the pastors are teaching verse by verse through the Gospel of Mark).

Pastor Brian compared the word "delivered" with the way it is used in Romans 4:25 and Romans 8:32 in order to emphasize the purposefulness behind the deliverance of Christ unto death. Christ's death wasn't just a passive happening or the consequence of how things played out because of man's choices. Christ's death was a purposeful plan from our loving, sovereign God. Christ's redemption of His people was purposeful. Christ's atonement was purposeful. Christ's justification of sinful people was purposeful.

My salvation isn't merely a bonus prize that came along with a passive death.

My salvation is the result of a choice ... God's choice. God chose how to redeem His people, and He set forth that plan of redemption very purposefully.

So why do I live my life as a follower of Christ so passively?

Because it's easy.

Making purposeful decisions to put others before myself and to serve them with unconditional love can be really difficult and really inconvenient. On my own, I have no desire to live that way. That's why I'm so incredibly grateful that "it is God who works in [me], both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13 ESV).

I can do nothing apart from Christ. I must rely on the Holy Spirit every second of every day. It's time for me to stop being so ridiculously passive and start living purposefully. It is time to "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14 ESV).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Diving In

Today marked a major milestone for me. I went through the membership interview at Southside Fellowship this morning. I'm really looking forward to starting my journey with this group of believers as we live in community with one another.

This certainly wasn't on purpose, but I realized this morning that today is the one year anniversary of when I moved back to Greenville. I came here with hopes of a fresh start, and God has given that to me. It seems fitting that I took this step on this day.

A large part of the last two years has been very trying, but I trust that God has had a plan in all of it. There is a time and a season for everything. I'm diving into this new season with joy and anticipation of all the Lord has in store for me. :O)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reflection on Goslings

You're likely aware that I love spring. There are so many things going on in nature that serve as reminders of our risen Lord that it's difficult for me to comprehend not loving spring (while I do extend a bit of grace toward those who suffer from allergies to such a degree that they can't help but harbor hard feelings toward spring).

This year, one of those reminders has been the goslings that hatched recently by the pond in front of the home office.

I watched them for a little while this afternoon as we awaited the beginning of a meeting. The interactions between the goslings and their loving, protective, instructive parents is quite fascinating. Their parents are instructing them on how to be mobile in different environments. I've seen them nudge them along the asphalt driveway toward our employee parking lot. A coworker told me how the parents teach the goslings to be brave and jump down off the curb and then teach them how to jump back onto it. Today, the goslings were waddling up and down a small hill, their parents just a few feet away, watching attentively.

As I think of the precious new lives waddling around the pond in front of our building, I'm reminded of our life cycle as Christians. God pulls us out of the muck and mire and transforms us. He gives us new life. We are new creations. (cf. 1 Cor. 5:17)

The growth process begins immediately. God builds and strengthens our faith day by day. As we study His Word and sit under godly teaching, our knowledge of the Lord expands and deepens. God reveals our spiritual gifts to us, and we begin to step out and serve.

God places people in our lives to assist with this process: elders, counselors, friends, family, new brothers and sisters in Christ. They are in our lives to nudge us along and keep us on track. One of the goslings has a tendency to lag behind and stray away from the group. The parents, very lovingly and gently, seek out the gosling and nudge him back where he belongs. Our fellow believers do the same thing for us.

Even more importantly, He has given us the Holy Spirit, an ever present advocate and aid. In John 14:26, Jesus told His disciples, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." What a precious gift from the Lord!

There are many days I still feel like a gosling, not because I'm growing and learning, but because I'm tumbling down the hill again. I'm very grateful for the other geese God has placed in my life. They help me get back on track, and they do so in a loving and gracious manner.

Take a look around you today. Are there goslings in your path in need of some encouragement? Maybe you're in need of encouragement. If so, I adjure you to seek out fellow believers and allow them to minister to you. After all, I'm sure you don't want to waddle around the pond forever. Don't you want to fly some day? I know I do. :O)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Officially the Start of a New Week

I certainly had no intentions of being awake as Saturday melted into Sunday. Alas, I am. Whilst I wind down and prepare for bed, I will blog a little.

I decided to set a few goals for the week. One goal would have been smart, but I'm not that kind of gal. I ended up with seven goals. I know, I know ... I'm probably setting myself for failure. OR ... I could be setting myself up for seven times the success that I would have had with only one goal.

For the sake of at least a smidge of accountability, I'm going to share those seven goals with you. I hope I can remember them without walking to the bathroom to read the Post-it Note on the mirror ...

1) Have at least 5 times of devotion
2) Go to the gym at least 5 out of 7 days
3) Up by 6am Sunday through Friday (I'm cutting myself a break on Saturday!)
4) Bed by 10pm Sunday through Thursday (I decided bed by 10 on Saturday just wasn't an achievable goal this week considering it was after 10 when I was compiling my goals.)
5) Lose 1 pound
6) Read at least 3 chapters of Boundaries
7) Read at least 2 chapters of The Shack

I'll report back and let you know how I do. There isn't anything spectacular about my goals. In fact, most of my goals are things normal people do all of the time. I'm a little slow in some areas. God is good. He loves me anyway, and He has given me the Holy Spirit to help me grow. What more could a gal want? :O)

Oh! I remembered my goals without looking at the Post-it Note! That means I'm off to a good start!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hilarious Conversation with my Grandmother

Grandma: "You know 'X' was in the paper today."
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Grandma: "Yeah, for that sport he plays. What is it? Volleyball? I think he plays volleyball."
Me: "Really? I don't think he plays volleyball."
Grandma: "He plays that one where you kick the ball - I think."
Me: "Soccer? Volleyball uses a net. You have to get the ball over the net."
Grandma: "Oh, you use bats to get it over the net?"
Me: "No ..."
Grandma: "Well, I know there's one that uses bats."
Me: "Baseball ..."
Grandma: "No, there's one that uses bats and a net."
Me: "Badminton has a net, and you use rackets that look sort of like tennis rackets to get the thing over the net." (Throwing "birdie" into this conversation would have tanked it completely.)
Grandma: "Well, I knew there was something that used bats and a net. Oh, well, I don't know what he plays."
Me: "Pretty sure it's soccer ... You know, you could get the paper back out and read it again to find out what he plays."
Grandma: "Yeah, I suppose I could ..."

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm attempting something this week that I've attempted before, but I've never been completely successful at it. So far, today has gone OK. That is only by God's grace. With each day that passes, however, I know there will be stronger temptations to quit. I'm committed to making it through Friday, though, and I know God will help me do it. I'll try to post throughout the week and share with you what God is teaching me. I definitely want to post on Saturday or Sunday, because I'm confident I will have at least one thing to share. Because God is awesome, generous, kind, loving, wise, a most excellent teacher, etc., I supsect I will have more than just one thing.

Already, God has placed someone in my life for whom I am truly grateful. She is an answered prayer. She is helping me put some things into the right perspective. She's helping me grieve and grow. Tonight, she reminded me that I cannot control anyone else's actions. Through God's grace, I can work on my own life, but I cannot do anything that will change someone else. Sure, I can impact someone, and I can pray that God will intervene in someone's life, but I am not responsible for how that person responds or acts. That's a liberating thought. :O)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Hollered" vs. "Hurled"

Back in September/October, I started tutoring a little girl who is in the third grade. We get together once a week so I can help her with her reading. At first, I wasn't sure if she liked me, and I wasn't sure if I was really helping her much, but we stuck it out. Over the last couple of months, I have seen more and more progress, and she seems to like reading more and more. It's been awesome!

I feel I must share with you a happy, yet honestly almost a little sad, moment I had today while tutoring. My tutoree really enjoys the Junie B. books, and we're now reading our second one, Junie B. and a Little Monkey Business. In this book, Junie B. uses the word "hollered" a lot. The little girl I tutor is from Vietnam, not the south, so she isn't very familiar with the word "hollered." For weeks, every time she came to that word, she would say "hurled." So, instead of reading something like "I hollered" or "she hollered," she would read "I hurled" or "she hurled." I always corrected her, but I giggled a lot inside when she said the wrong word. Is that mean of me? Anyway, after a couple of tries today, she started saying "hollered." I was really proud of her for getting it right! I will, however, miss my inner chuckles ... I know, mean, right?

Earthworms: One Good Memory and One Not So Good Memory

I saw two earthworms in the parking lot at work today. Those two earthworms brought to mind two very different memories.

I'll start with the Not So Good memory:

During my time at North Greenville, I learned that a lot of rain equalled a lot of earthworms. I was walking across campus one evening during a particularly rainy period of time. It was REALLY rainy, so that meant there were a TON of earthworms! There were so many earthworms that I had to jump all over the place so my feet had somewhere to step that there wasn't an earthworm! GROSS! I almost cried! It was a horrible experience, but I'm sure I experienced personal growth from it somehow ... I'll get back to you on that one. :O)

Now the Good memory:

When Joel, Shana, and I were growing up (well, I was pretty close to grown up at this point), there was a Sega in our house. One of the games we enjoyed playing was Earthworm Jim. It was awesome! I miss that game! Throughout the game, Earthworm Jim would yell, "HAM!" We thought that was great! So we would yell "HAM!" from time to time. It was awesome! Then one day, we realized he wasn't saying "HAM!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Feels Different

Have you ever noticed that spring FEELS different? Of course, there is the obvious atmospheric difference because the temperature is warmer, but there’s more to it. Spring feels different to me on a lot of different levels.

My pants feel different. What? That’s right, my pants feel different. The way the material feels on my skin is different. This isn’t the first year I’ve noticed that. It could be because I’m wearing sandals rather than boots, but the difference is there nonetheless.

The air around me feels different. I notice this particularly in the evenings, but also on spring afternoons. Maybe it’s because it gets dark later, but the air feels different, lighter maybe, when I’m sitting in my apartment on spring evenings. It feels less oppressive, more hopeful, like I could actually accomplish something if I chose to.

My bed feels different. Perhaps this can be contributed to the temperature difference. I haven’t started wearing different pajamas, so I don’t think this is the same as my pants feeling different. My sheets actually feel different to me.

Perhaps I’m just different in the spring. Maybe I’m coming to life. I feel cooped up, oppressed, even depressed in the winter. I thrive in the spring. It is a time filled with new life, hope, and possibilities. It is an ever present reminder that I once was dead in sin, but Christ gave me new life. Maybe that’s why I feel different. :O)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still Chillin' in Conway

I had so much fun with Amy this evening! It was really refreshing to be with a friend and spend the evening laughing. One of the things I love about being friends with Amy is that I laugh almost nonstop when we're together. She's going to post some pictures that we took while we were in Walmart (we spent 2 hours in Walmart!). I'll swipe one and share it with you.

I mentioned that Shana and I are taking pictures in the morning. I also mentioned that I suggested that we go watch the sunrise over the river. Shana was totally up for it! Then she had a great idea ... watching the sunrise over the ocean! So, I'm planning on picking her up between 6:15-6:30 so we can watch the sunrise over the ocean! If I get some good pictures, I'll share them with you.

Chillin' in Conway

I'm in Conway for a couple of days hangin' out with my grandma. I surprised her last night. She had no clue I was coming for a visit. She keeps asking me why I'm here. I'm trying not to take that personally ... :O)

Before I got here, I was really upset about some things. After chatting with my aunt, I'm a bit more at peace about those things. I thank God for that peace. I know He is in control of all things. I just have a tendency to lose sight of that.

I'm having dinner with my friend Amy this evening. I'm really excited about that, because I haven't seen her in a long time. I've known her since I was in high school, and God has seen fit to maintain our friendship, so it will be really good to see her.

Tomorrow morning, my sister Shana and I are going to practice our photography. I'm not certain yet where we are going. I would like to go to Brookgreen Gardens, but I don't want to pay the admission to get in! So, we'll find somewhere equally as exciting and likely a little more creative. She asked me to text her and tell her what time I want her to come over in the morning. I told her 6:45 so we could catch the sunrise over the river. She hasn't texted me back ... haha. :O)

Just a side note: my sister Shana is one of the most awesome people in the whole wide world. I'm so grateful for her. She is praying for guidance about where God would have her go to school in the fall. If you think about it, please lift her up. I know she would appreciate it. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Desert Song by Hillsong

I really love this song, so I thought I would share it with you. :O)

Verse 1:
This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

Verse 2:
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Verse 3:
And this is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Verse 4:
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bittersweet Moments

About 9-10 months ago, I made the difficult decision to leave my last church. That church had been my home for almost 4 years, so it certainly wasn't easy leaving. While I have a total peace about my decision, and I'm very grateful that God has led me to a new church home, I have experienced several bittersweet moments of remembrance lately.

Valentine's Day brought about the first wave of bittersweet moments. Every year, the kids of the church and I would make Valentine's Day cards to give to children in the hospital. I loved doing that with them. I really missed doing that this year.

The onslaught of Easter propaganda brought about the next wave of bittersweet moments. Every year, the kids of the church and I put together Easter baskets to donate to the United Way. I loved doing that with them. I really missed doing that this year.

Yes, I miss a lot of things - a lot of people. But that doesn't change anything. All of the reasons I left still stand. So, during the bittersweet moments, I smile a little and keep going. God has a lot in store for me. I know it. He is sovereign, wise, loving, and kind. He has a plan for my life, and He will use all of the experiences of my past to enhance my future. My future rocks, because it's in the hands of Almighty God. So I'm thankful for the bittersweet moments. They remind me Who I serve.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Whose Story? Mine or God's?

Pastor Charlie's message in church this morning was very powerful. He taught on Mark 6:7-30 (Southside Fellowship is going verse by verse through the book of Mark). One of the comparisons he made was between the life of Herod and the life of John the Baptist. While John the Baptist remained faithful to the Lord, even unto death, Herod ignored multiple opportunities to lay down his own life and follow God. Pastor Charlie challenged us this morning. He asked us if God had been calling us to do something that we were passing up continually. He also cautioned us that the window of opportunity won't stay open forever.

I began to reflect on my own life. Many of you have known me for the bulk of my life. For those of you who were in my life during my teen years, you likely will recall that the Lord called me into ministry one summer while I was with my Acteens group at Camp LaVida. You were there with me and encouraged me in my walk over the next several years.

I followed God's call and spent my first summer after high school working at Camp LaVida. I then started college at Charleston Southern. I spent the following summer at Camp LaVida and then transferred to North Greenville. The following summer, I travelled to Canada to do summer missions. The summer after graduating from North Greenville, I followed the Lord's call and spent the summer in Ireland doing summer missions. Those four or so years were incredible. While there were definitely some vallies, I remained fairly consistent in my walk. God provided me with countless opportunities to serve Him.

My life gets a little fuzzy after college. I travelled to Kentucky for a school year to begin seminary. At the end of the school year, I think I let some of my own personal hangups get the best of me, and I returned to SC. I had pretty good intentions of continuing my education through online courses and taking classes at the extension center in Greenville. That lasted for two semesters, and then I decided I was burnt out from school, so I "took a break." It's been a LONG break, because I'm still taking it.

God gave me the opportunity to serve in a small church plant. I worked with the women and children, and I told myself I was fulfilling God's call in my life, because I was in fact involved in ministry. But there was always something nagging in the back of my mind, something in my heart telling me I was compromising.

Through several different events, I chose to leave that church. Rather than plugging in immediately to a new church, I found myself spiralling downhill quickly. I visited churches here and there, but I became rather skilled at creating excuses not to go.

By God's grace, I realized I was in a very bad place. It scared me how easily I had pushed aside the faith I had always held so dear. Rather than dying to myself daily, I was growing more and more self-centered. I became a recluse of sorts and rarely even wanted to be around people. In fact, I would well up with anxiety at the mere thought of being around new people. For those of you who know me very well, that was a big change in my personality!

Around October, I began attending Southside Fellowship on a regular basis. My heart still wasn't really into it, but I knew I at least had to get back into the motions, trusting that God would work on my heart. The teaching has been really good, and I've been challenged by the Word.
That brings me to today's message, to Pastor Charlie's questions. Has God been calling me to something that I've essentially been ignoring? Am I focused on being a part of God's story so that His name will be magnified, or am I focused on writing my own story?

Yes, I've been ignoring God's call in my life ... so that I could write my own story.

It's time for me to put down the pen/pencil/laptop and stop writing. It's time for me to surrender and be a part of the greatest story ever written.

I don't know what that might entail. I have a few ideas - ideas that are both scary and thrilling. I would really appreciate your prayers. First, please pray that God would make clear to me what He would have me do with my life. Second, please pray that God would help me in the areas of my life that I know would be stumbling blocks in the ministry.

I love you all, and I thank you for the role you've played in my life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 7:22 - An Interesting Parallel

As I was reading in Genesis this evening, I noticed a parallel in these verses that I don't recall paying attention to before. I don't know if it's because the ESV uses such similar wording that it jumped out to me, or if maybe it was a truth I needed to see. Probably both.

2:7 ~ "then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."

7:22 ~ "Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died."

These weren't just random people who died in the flood when God brought His judgment on them. They were His creation, people whom He knit together in their mothers' wombs. They contained the breath of life. Oh, how that must have grieved the Lord so much to have to discipline His creation.

A mere 5 chapters in Genesis between when God breathed life into Adam and when His creation underwent His judgment. I know it was a relatively long span of time, but how did it get so bad? Five chapters separate life and death, creation and judgment, a beginning and an end.

I look at my own life. I am no different from the people who died in the flood. I grieve God on a daily basis (really probably more like an hourly or minute by minute basis). He is so merciful to me, so loving and patient.

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness." ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Love and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

We had a contest today in Toastmasters, and I participated. I came in second place. I was a little disappointed, but Kathy did an amazing job, so I both understand and agree with the judges' decision.

I thought I would share my speech with you, because I really enjoyed it. Just a note: words that are bracketted off like [this] are little notes to myself.

Love and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. My Pop Pop makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the whole wide world. He slices the cheddar cheese to just the right thickness. He spreads just the right amount of butter on the bread. He heats up the frying pan to just the right temperature and flips the sandwich just the right number of times so that each side reaches a glorious golden brown. Then he slides it onto a plate and cuts it in half, the melted cheese oozing from each piece, ready for me to dig in.

I love my Pop Pop. In addition to being the maker of the world’s best grilled cheese sandwiches, he’s one of the most incredible men I have ever known. I love the relationship he and my grandmother have, and I hope to someday share that kind of love with someone. But I think I’ve had the wrong perspective on how to obtain that love for quite a while now. You see, I think I was looking at finding a husband kind of like making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. I thought I simply needed just the right ingredients, just the right amount of heat, and just the right amount of time to create the perfect relationship. Then my grandmother told me a little story that brought me back to the right perspective.

The year was 1947. Clyde, a young woman who hated having a “man’s” name, was a student at Winthrop, and Mark was finishing up at Clemson after returning home from war. As with most college students during those days, Friday night was date night. They put on their Friday night best, spruced themselves up, and headed to the local hangout, a jazzy little place perfect for dinner and dancing. But they weren’t headed there with each other. Mark was meeting up with another young Winthrop co-ed, and Clyde was meeting another Clemson man.

They all ended up at the same table together, Clyde and her date on one side, and Mark and his date on the other. Mark’s date was terribly upset and all out of sorts. The Winthrop girls had received their grades that day. Typically a very good student, her grades were simply terrible. She was very concerned about the trouble she was going to be in with her parents, and Mark’s charms couldn’t seem to lift her spirits. So she decided to go home, leaving Mark behind. A little while later, for reasons no one can recall, Clyde’s date decided to leave as well, leaving her alone with Mark.

They sat and talked for a while, and then they heard the voice of Ella Fitzgerald … [actually singing] “Say, it’s only a paper moon; sailin’ over a cardboard sea; but it wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me …” Mark stood up and walked over to Clyde. He bowed a little and held out his hand to her. “May I have this dance?” Clyde felt her cheeks flush as she placed her hand in his. He led her to the dance floor, and their eyes locked as they began to dance. [begin dancing] With each word that Ella sang, Mark and Clyde glided across the floor. Song after song, they danced the night away.

Mark gave Clyde a lift back to Winthrop, and he walked her to the door of her dormitory. “I’d like to see you again,” he said. “I’d really like that as well.” That evening began a two year courtship, and Mark and Clyde joined in marriage in 1949. They have three wonderful sons and six rather remarkable grandchildren, and they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in April.

You may be asking yourself what this story has to do with the strange grilled cheese sandwich philosophy I had on love. To me, the most wonderful detail of how my grandparents began courting is the fact that the young woman who was my grandfather’s date that night actually received the wrong grades. She really made straight A’s. If she had received the correct set of grades, she likely would have stayed there with my grandfather that evening, and my grandparents quite possibly would have never started courting.

I don’t believe it was fate. I don’t believe it was a coincidence. I don’t believe it was written in the stars. I believe a very loving God planned out the tiniest of details to put the right people together. So now I’m not focusing on a grocery list of the qualities I want in a husband. I’m not worried about making sure I’m in the right place at the right time so I’ll bump into Mr. Right. I’m trusting that the same loving God who placed my grandparents together will someday do the same for me, and that will be better than any grilled cheese sandwich even my Pop Pop could make.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Random Things I Love ...

I love it when my Mii on Wii Fit starts checking herself out. She's so proud of her progress (-11 pounds).

Monday, January 12, 2009

clogged blogger

I really want to blog, but I'm feeling a little clogged in the head ... so sad.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sigh ... I Miss Looking Like This

This is me many, many pounds ago. I was still overweight, but that's the best I think I've ever looked. My hair even looked better when I weighed less. Maybe I'll look even better some day! :O)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Random Things I Love ...

I love the new spot I chose for my free-standing full-length mirror! I'll take a picture soon ... bedroom still needs A LOT of work!
Today has been a fairly interesting day, so I'll share it with you.

It was finally Friday, so that made me happy. I was quite pleased to see Monday #5 arrive so this week could come to an end. I've just had a rough time getting back into the full swing of things. I was on vacation the whole week of Christmas, and I only worked Monday, Wednesday, and Friday last week. So, needless to say, my mind and body just weren't into working 5 days in a row! Here's hoping I do better next week. :O)

I won't mention work in my blog often, because I understand there can be unpleasant ramifications to that, but this is good, so I'm going to blog about it. The area in which I work is attempting a Biggest Loser competition again. We tried it this past summer, but it didn't really go that great on the whole. Personally, I quit just a few weeks in. We were competing in an "each man on his own" fashion. We're going about it differently this time. We're competing as teams. The two key benefits of this will be improving our health and building team unity. I can already tell that it's going over well. People are excited about getting physically fit, and we're excited about doing it together. My team had a meeting today to select a team name. We decided on Lardbusters, and our motto is "RAO TUM DA," (there's a really good chance I spelled that wrong, but it's pronounced "Low Tum Da" like ouch not low) which is Thai for "We can do it!" We laughed a lot during our meeting, which was good (except that toward the end of our 10:00 meeting I finished off my second bottle of water, so I was struggling ... sorry, TMI). I'm a fan of us walking down the hall in a Ghostbuster -like-fashion to our weigh-ins singing Ghostbuster music ... "Who ya gonna call? LARDBUSTERS! Dun un dun uh dun uh ..." haha

I took the afternoon off today because I was supposed to have Direct TV installed. The installers showed up, and they assessed the situation pretty quickly: my apartment is on the wrong side of the building to have Direct TV installed. The satellite would be pointing in the wrong direction, which apparently wouldn't work. I was really disappointed, because I was really looking forward to having Direct TV. I was only going to be paying about $35 a month, and I would have had DVR capability!! I was really excited! I called Charter to inquire about regular cable, and it was going to be over $70, which I declined politely. I just can't justify paying that much so I can watch TV all the time. So, after some contemplation, I went to Best Buy and purchased two digital converter boxes. I spent a total of about $130 (I needed to buy an antenna for one of my TV's as well, and I didn't have the government coupons which are no longer available "on demand"), which is less than I would have paid for two months of cable with Charter or 4 months of Direct TV. No, I don't have 150 channels or DVR capability, but I do have more channels (that aren't fuzzy!) than I had before, including something like 4 ETV's, because I needed that many.

As many of you know, I'm working toward improving my phsyical wellbeing. I've been exercising, and I'm working bit by bit on improving my eating habits. One of the ways I'm improving my eating habits is by eliminating fast food from my diet, which is difficult for me. I enjoy fast food (most of the time), and cooking just isn't always appealing to me. Tonight, for whatever reason, I was particularly tempted. I was even going to compromise with myself and just get a soda from Sonic. Instead of any form of fast food, I stopped by Publix. I purchased some healthy, organic food items, and I came home. Along with the salsa pizza I had already planned on making (pizza crust, salsa for sauce, chunks of grilled chicken, and fiesta blend cheese), I prepared a side salad that consisted of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, strawberries, and a few mixed nuts. It was a pretty yummy salad, an excellent source of veggies for me.

Before I sat down to eat, I decided I should weigh in on Wii Fit before I filled my tummy. Drum roll please ... I've lost 5 pounds since Monday night! That's 5 pounds in essentially 4 days! My eyes teared up a bit when it told me that. I reached my 2 week goal in 4 days, so I had to set a new goal! So, I hope to lose 5 more pounds within the next two weeks. I can do it!!

Alrighty, I'll let you go now. If you read all this, you're awesome. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Things I Love ...

I really love the way my Mii looks in a penquin suit on Wii Fit ... I mean, seriously, SO CUTE!
Last night, I was in my bathroom, and I heard my neighbor singing. I found it quite amusing, and I tried to figure out what she was singing. Could you imagine if I had started singing along so she could hear me? haha, that thought has amused me all day. :O)

I'm still making progress on my goals I've set for this year. I have not fallen into the temptation to eat fast food, and I have now exercised 7 days in a row! That's pretty good for me!

OK, I guess I should be more accurate and say I'm making progress on that goal ... I still need to work on my other ones. :O)

I think I may go to this http://www.philandamyfitness.com/90_Day_Challenge.html on Saturday. If you're in the area and would like to go with me, let me know!

I had a thought earlier ... good grief ... what was it? ....

Oh, well ... I sat here and thought for a while, and I couldn't remember it. Maybe I'll think of it later ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Random Things I Love ...

Dryer Sheets! If I could, I think I would sew them together and make clothes out of them ... or at least blankets so I could cover myself with their wonderfulness.


As I'm typing, I'm enjoying the dinner I just made. I suppose this counts as a new recipe for me, because my sister and I gave it a go over Christmas.

As I was driving from Charleston to Conway, I began pondering the chicken my stepmom made for us one night. From those thoughts sprang forth an idea to try to make my own chicken tenders, and not just to make chicken tenders but to experiment with the breading.

So, we tried 3 things: Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers, Special K with Red Berries, and a generic brand of Honey Bunches of Oats.

The probably pretty obvious 3rd place winner was the Special K with Red Berries.

In 2nd place was the Honey Bunches of Oats (redeemed by the dipping sauce I whipped up).

And 1st place went to the Ritz Crackers! They're really good!

When I made them tonight, I used a rolling pin to crush the crackers, and that worked a lot better. I made my dipping sauce again as well - a tangy ranch that is a mixture of fat free ranch dressing and hickory bbq sauce - NOT BAD AT ALL!! :O)

Oh, one important note is that I baked the chicken tenders. I did not deep fry them!

Tonight, I accompanied the tenders with some mixed veggies to round off my dinner. I'm trying!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Random Things I Love ...

I love the warmth of my laptop when I'm a little chilly. :O)

YAY for a New Year!

I'm totally excited to have internet access at home, and I thought I would just start blogging away, but I'm actually not really in the mood ... so sad. I promise to get back into the mood, though.

I have made lots of goals for the year, a couple of them being improving myself physically and taking pride in my home. I bought a Wii and Wii Fit, and I've been exercising with it. One of the ways I am going to take pride in my home is by trying at least one new recipe a month. The latest new recipe I tried was a BBQ Chicken Pizza. TA DA!

YUM! It was really good! I was proud of myself. :O) I also purchased the ingredients necessary to make a "Mexican" pizza and "Aloha Chicken." I'll let you know how they turn out.

Alrighty ... I'm going to let you go now. Happy New Year! (even if it is the 5th already ...)