Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I love Fall!

Fall is my favorite season! I know that it means that Winter is right around the corner, but I like the change of seasons and think that fall is a refreshing change after a hot summer.

Here are some of my favorite things about Fall:

* Clear blue skies
* Brilliant colors of the changing leaves
* Walking on crunchy fallen leaves (especially at Radnor Lake)
* The cool, crisp feel of the air
* Pumpkin Spice Latte!
* Pumpkin Pie
* Memories of being in the high school marching band
* Fall decorations
* Hay rides
* Colorful mums
* Mountain vista views

What are some of your favorite things about this season?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

She would have been 100 years old today!

One hundred years ago today, on September 22, 1909, my grandmother was born in Grassy Creek, NC. Edna Ophelia, or Maw-Maw, as I called her, was the next to youngest daughter of Willis and Sally Walker. She had older brothers who fought in the World Wars. Her father owned a general store and she went to high school at Virginia-Carolina School. She only was able to complete part of her teaching certificate because her parents died. She moved to Maryland as a young woman (above photo is probably from before she moved away from NC), and there met my granddaddy, Gwyn Blevins. They married and had three children, the oldest a daughter who eventually gave birth to me!

I was born in Maryland and was blessed to have spent lots of time with Maw-Maw when I was young. Even after we moved to New Jersey, we still got to go visit Maw-Maw and Granddaddy four or five times a year. I have so many memories of being at their house and cherish the things that I learned from them. In fact, Maw-Maw is the one who helped me remember when I first accepted Christ as my Savior. Since I did that early in my life, as I got older, sometimes I couldn't remember the exact details and asked her to tell me what she remembered. It was a sweet assurance when she said that I loved Jesus from an early age and that I had asked questions and made a decision to ask Jesus into my heart.

Maw-Maw outlived her husband, and eventually moved to Tennessee to live close to my parents and our family. She lived a long life, passing away in February 2003, at the age of 93. I am so thankful that she got to know her great-grandson, Daniel. He didn't know her like I knew her, since she was not as active in her later years, but she made an impact on his life and he has memories of her as well.

When Maw-Maw died, I wrote down some of my memories of her. In her memory and to honor her life on what would have been her 100th birthday, here are some of the things I remember about Maw-Maw:

. . .She was in the back seat of the car with me when we went to pick up Mom and Baby Jeanette from the hospital. Maw-Maw gave me Ritz crackers out of the long, wax paper sleeves they came in then.

. . .In the kitchen, cooking: She would make big breakfasts and have “dinner” for lunch and snacks for supper. She made “hotcakes” not “pancakes” and made delicious, melt-in-your mouth yeast rolls that she taught me how to fold over "just so" on my hand before putting them on the pan. The rolls were usually for holidays and special occasion meals.

. . .In the kitchen, washing dishes: She’d run the soapy water on the left side and the rinse water on the right. She’d get it as hot as she could stand. She’d bring the dish drainer up out from under the sink and put the wet, clean dishes in it to drain a bit before I dried. I (or whomever was drying) had to dry very thoroughly and not put anything away with any water still on it. She’d put away the dish drainer after every dishwashing.

. . .Making apple pies. They were my favorite and she made me at one as a “birthday cake” the year I was five.

. . .Making salmon cakes. That was a favorite meal she made and when I grew up and got married, one day I called her to ask her how to make them. She told me how to make the salmon cakes (“Use Old Bay seasoning”), she said to make sure I made homemade macaroni and cheese and cooked some lima beans to go with the salmon cakes. I already had that in my mind because that's the way she had done it.

. . .Humming. She would often hum hymns as she worked, either in the kitchen or down in her basement where she did laundry, ironed and canned.

. . .Doing laundry on Mondays. In the warm weather, she would wash the clothes inside in the washing machine and hang them out to dry on the clotheslines out back. I’d get to help her hang things up and take them in when they were dry. She folded clothes sometimes on the kitchen table upstairs or in the basement on a table down there.

. . .Ironing on Tuesdays down in the basement. She had spray starch and would iron everything except socks, even blue jeans, unless we stopped her from putting a crease in ours. She’d turn on “The Price is Right” and other morning game shows and talk shows while she worked, but never wanted to see those old “stories” which is what she called the soap operas in the afternoon.

. . .Gardening her small plots (Granddaddy did the big garden), until her skin couldn’t handle the sun and pesticides and she had to leave the gardening to Granddaddy.

. . .Canning and freezing strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, beans, peas, that they grew in the garden or got from the orchard (peaches, apples). She’d fill up the shelves behind the stairs that led to the basement from the kitchen and at least one whole freezer and we’d usually get some to take home to NJ with us every time we came, anytime of year.

. . .Sitting in her recliner in the living room in the evening. She’d read, talk to Granddaddy, sometimes watch some TV. She had a more feminine recliner-rocker chair and Granddaddy had the big, comfy, well used, recliner. She also had the reputation of buying things and them not being to her liking once she got them home (Granddaddy was a saint for being her courier on many a return to the store). She even returned recliner chairs if they "threw her neck off". :-)

. . .Sewing in the extra room that we slept in. She used to make Jeanette and me dresses and jumpers and she made most of her own housedresses and pantsuits. She taught me how to stitch and to sew a button. She’d let me have scraps of fabric and an old purse to use as my sewing basket. She taught me to make some small doll clothes and coin purses.

. . .Going to church. She or Granddaddy would take me to the appropriate Sunday School class and make sure the teacher knew who I was. I always loved it when people told me they knew my grandparents (which was most people at Oak Grove). In “big church” when I was small, I’d sit with her and listen to her sing the hymns and when I got older, she let me sit with my friends that I’d made there. After church we’d stand around and visit and wait for Granddaddy to finish counting money or seeing to what he had been doing. If Mom was with us, I loved to hear people greet her and catch up with her on their lives.

. . .Having morning Bible readings with Granddaddy in the kitchen. They would read the Bible and the missionary birthday list and then pray together for their family and the missionaries before they ate breakfast. When I was visiting, I would join them, or if I weren’t up yet, I’d hear them and listen in from the guest room, which was right next to the kitchen.

. . .Sitting on the back porch on summer evenings. After supper she’d sit down and rest a little bit and we’d visit or she’d visit with her neighbors. Sometimes we’d walk over and see Mrs. Holloway, Mrs. Gilley or Mrs. Duncan.

. . .Going to Harford Mall or Thrift Drug store. We’d usually see somebody that we knew when we were out in Bel Air like that and I liked it when she would say, "and this is Nancy's girl." Granddaddy did all of the grocery shopping, but Maw-Maw liked to go on other shopping trips.

. . .Keeping butter mints or small pastel mints in the glass candy dish with the metal lid that clinked when you touched the lid to the glass, no matter how carefully you tried to take it off or put it back (and she always knew!).

. . .Making the beds each morning after breakfast. She also didn’t like for us to sit on the bed to play or whatever, but that was mainly after she thought she’d ruined a mattress by sitting on the edge of it when she talked on the phone.

. . .Talking on the phone. She’d visit with her church friends and kept up with what was going on.

. . .Going to the beauty parlor. She’d get a perm every few weeks and every week would go get her hair washed and set.

. . .Washing my hair in the basement sink. She said my hair was like a duck’s because water would roll off of it at first.

. . .Telling me about her growing up years and especially her special relationships with her sister, Iola, and her brothers, Cicero, Challie and Jim.

. . .Going to visit Uncle Don and Aunt Iola, Uncle Challie and Aunt Hazel, Uncle Cicero and Aunt Winnie and cousin Ethelene.

. . .Wearing dark sunglasses and having special tinted film on the car windows that Granddaddy put there to keep the sun out of her eyes. She also had a leather seat so she could slide in easier than on the fabric-covered seat.

. . .Coming to my graduation from college in 1989 and then my wedding in 1991 with Granddaddy. They loved coming to Nashville because they watched “Nashville” every night on TV (they watched The Nashville Network on cable).

. . .Living in the condo and then mobile home. I missed their house on Prospect Mill Road, where all of the things I wrote above took place.

. . .Living in the assisted living or nursing homes. She still loved to visit with others and liked for people to come see her. The workers always loved her and said she was sweet.

. . .Seeing Daniel, her first great-grandchild, for the first time. I knew she loved babies and had seen her with my younger cousins and other children, but it was such a special thrill for me to present her with my sweet baby boy and let her hold him. Later, seeing Daniel “sing” into her pronged cane and play around her or out in the park at McKendree. . . .She loved to see Daniel when he came to visit and he would talk loudly to her and give her hugs and kisses. He interviewed Maw-Maw for a school project and wrote an essay about her.

. . .Drinking a Coke and eating crackers during afternoon visits at McKendree Village in Hermitage. She also liked thin crust sausage pizza from Pizza Hut and liked to eat it with Pringles on the side.

. . .Having her tell me I was one of her special girls and giving me a kiss and a smile.

I've been told that I'm a lot like my Maw-Maw. Sometimes that hasn't necessarily been given as a compliment, since she was particular in her ways (the recliner incident being one example), but I am glad that I have some of her traits. She loved her family, was a hard worker, and loved her Lord Jesus. If I can be like her in those ways, and live as long as she did, I will have had a good life!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life Without Sugar

It’s been a little over a week since I took on the no-sugar challenge and I will say that it hasn’t been as bad as I anticipated. With the exception of last Friday night, I haven’t been miserable in craving sweets or carbs (although I did have a Chai latte and a zucchini muffin over the weekend). For the most part, I’m feeling better without the sugar in my body and am really only missing fruit, which I get to add back in my diet next week (yay!).

This journey is about more than sugar for me, though. It’s not even really about food, although that seems to be my trouble spot. What it’s about is obedience and idolatry. I’ve had weight issues for most of my life. I have had many victories along the way and have tried to desire a healthy body over looking a certain way or fitting into a certain size jeans. I have known the right things to do to stay healthy, but many times, it came down to not doing what I know to do. That’s an obedience issue, not a food issue.

As I’ve struggled this year with my weight, I found myself wondering if making an effort to eat healthy foods was not still a form of idolatry for me. Just this morning, I was crying out to God, asking Him to help me not to be so consumed with the process of losing weight, but to keep Him in the forefront of my mind. When I am consciously making an effort to eat healthy foods, it takes a lot of thought and planning. When I choose to not to put so much thought into eating healthy foods, I gain weight, because I let myself eat whatever feels good at the time. Either way, I think it’s idolatry.

I don’t really have any good answers or solutions at this point. I believe that I was created by God to do good works (Eph. 2:10). I know that I was formed in my mother’s womb and that I was “skillfully wrought” by a God who loves me and wants good things for me (Ps. 139:13-16). So, I will continue to start each day by turning my thoughts to Jesus and how I can live for Him. I will continue to try to make smart choices about what I put in my mouth and will keep praying for strength to be obedient without making food an idol.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jonesin' for carbs

So, I decided that the day after Labor Day seemed like a good time to start getting back on track with healthy eating. I'd been letting weight creep back on after several years of sort of maintaining weight loss. In the past, I'd lost 30 lbs two different times, once in my twenties and once in my thirties (a few years after having a baby). Now that I'm in my forties, the weight has not been as easy to get off and I've been back in a rut of not wanting to do what I know works, which is to eat healthy foods and controlled portions.

I've heard several people recommend the benefits of the South Beach Diet. I wasn't too crazy about the prospect of giving up carbs and sugar for the first two weeks of Phase One, but I decided that I can do anything for fourteen days, so I decided to try it. I really need something to jump start my body into losing weight again. My type of metabolism (called non-existent) doesn't like any effort to get rid of fat and poundage, so I knew it would need a huge jolt.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday went pretty well. I planned ahead, packed healthy meals and snacks to take to work, and had nary a carb for three days. I didn't miss bread hardly at all, but fruit is another story. I love berries, apples, grapes . . . almost every fruit except for bananas. But again, I can do anything for fourteen days, and then I'll get to reintroduce fruit back into my eating plan.

Well, welcome to Friday! Day Four. My craziest day at the office. I had plans to meet a friend at Starbuck's before work and I planned to get herbal tea or a sugar-free latte with nonfat milk. When I got up to the counter, I don't know what I was thinking, but I ordered a Chai Latte. It was nonfat, but it had sugar. I didn't get a yummy-looking pastry or scone, and after I got to work, I ate the food I had packed for the day (not all at once).

Fast-forward to the end of the day, the start of the weekend! I got home and started thinking about what I wanted to have for dinner. Nothing sounded good, except for things I couldn't have right now. Commercials for pizza and burgers mocked me. I couldn't go to the Greek Festival either, unless I wanted to just look at and smell that delicious food. So, here I am, jonesin' for carbs. I haven't given in yet, but I don't know how long those celery sticks and hummus are going to last. HELP!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Celebrating Jeanette!

Today is the anniversary of when I became a big sister! On this day, just a few years ago (I'll let her tell you how many), God blessed me with a new playmate, friend, and confidante, although I didn't always see it as a blessing all of the time! I do now and that's what counts! I'm so thankful for my sister, and am glad that she has put up with me as her big sister all these years!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Jeanette's Birthdays
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Attitude adjustment

I woke up early this morning dreading a task. My car a/c has been out for a few weeks and I needed to take the time to take it to the Honda dealership to find out the diagnosis (actually, to get a second opinion) and see how much it was going to cost to fix it. My hope was that it would be under warranty and that it could get fixed today, but I still dreaded the time it would take to go there and wait and I doubted that I would get out of there without a huge repair bill.

Before I left, I read today's entry in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, which said, from Jesus' perspective, "I am your best friend, as well as your King. Walk hand in hand with Me through your life. Together we will face whatever each day brings: pleasures, hardships, adventures, disappointments." My first reminder for the day of how closely Jesus wants me to walk with Him.

I got ready and posted a fairly negative status on Facebook, still feeling defeated before I even got out the door. In the car on the way, I turned on the radio and heard a string of songs (on two different stations) that continued to remind me that Jesus is with me, holding my hand: Rich Mullins/Step By Step, David Crowder Band/Holy, Phillips, Craig & Dean/Friend of God. Then the song, Savior, Please came on the radio. I happened to know it, even though it is by up-and-coming artist, Josh Wilson, because he goes to my church and I have his CD. Here are the lyrics (written by Josh Wilson and Ben Glover) that spoke straight to my heart as I drove up I-65 this morning:

Savior, please take my hand.
I work so hard. I live so fast.
This life begins, and then it ends.
And I do the best that I can,
But I don't know how long I'll last.

I try to be so tough.
But I'm just not strong enough.
I can't do this alone,
God I need you to hold onto me.
I try to be good enough
But I'm nothing without your love
Savior, please keep saving me.

Savior, please help me stand.
I fall so hard, I fade so fast.
Will you begin right where I end?
And be the God of all I am
Because You're all that I have.(chorus)

Everything You are to me
Is everything I'll ever need.
And I'm learning to believe
That I don't need to prove a thing
'Cause You're the One who's saving me.(chorus)

When that song came on, I had tears in my eyes, realizing how good God is to me! How many more reminders do I need to get it through my head that I can't do this life alone--and that I don't have to! Jesus is with me. He's my friend. He loves me. He's holding my hand, every step of the way. Yes, God's grace astounds me!

And by the way, my car still isn't fixed and the bill is high, but after my attitude check, I have my joy back and I'm going to continue to trust Jesus to walk with me as we figure this one out!