Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer reading

Today was Daniel's last day of ninth grade, so it's officially summer break at our house! Of course, my ever-conscientious son had me take him to Borders yesterday (yes, the day before school was out) to buy books he needs for his summer reading. He's not too excited about all the work he has to do over the summer, but I bought him a "fun" book too, so that helped.

One of the books that Daniel has to read was on a table marked, "Buy One, Get One 50% Off." Well, that's all the encouragement I needed. I looked around on the table to see if there was a book I might like that I could get for half price. After some quick deliberation (because it was supposed to be a short trip to Borders, if there is such a thing), I impulsively bought two books to start off my own summer reading. I actually felt guilty about my purchases when I woke up this morning, not because I had gotten some steamy "chick lit", but because I have a hard time spending money on books. I usually just write down the titles of books that catch my eye and then check them out from the library. But this time, I decided to keep them. Maybe I'll sell them later. And if you're doing the math, the fourth book that we got in the BOGO deal was the "treat" book I got for Daniel

So, without further ado, here are the titles I selected:

1. The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-year Friendship, by Jeffrey Zaslow

2. Summer at Tiffany, by Marjorie Hart

If you've read either of these books, I'd love to know what you thought. And I'd also love to hear about the books that you're planning to read this summer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've seen a glimpse of the future

. . . and it's Blue and White*!

Tonight we attended the graduation ceremonies for the Hume-Fogg Class of 2010. It was a unique experience to be able to stand on the sidewalk beside First Baptist Church and look up Broadway to see the Class of 2010, dressed in their blue caps and gowns, come down the front steps of the school and walk the two blocks to the arena. I only knew one of the graduates, but it was exciting to be able to cheer for these kids who have worked so hard to acheive this goal. Kind of a practice for what's to come in three more years.

I don't intend to fret away the next three years, bemoaning how quickly Daniel is growing up and how hard it will be when he leaves home. That would not make these next few years enjoyable for any of us. Instead, I want to cherish these years. I want to be as involved in Daniel's life as is healthy for both of us, while also giving him wings and helping him to be prepared for leaving the nest. I'm excited for him to grow and learn and to become the man that God has purposed for him to be. I want my son to experience each normal stage of life, even though that will mean that he gradually becomes less and less dependent on me.

I know that the choices I make as a parent over these next three years, and into his college years, will shape our relationship for the rest of our lives. I'm thankful to have this "front row seat" to watch him as he grows into a man. And I intend to be the one cheering the loudest from my seat in the arena when his name is called to walk across the stage and receive his diploma!

*Daniel would want me to point out that it's Hume-Fogg Blue, not UK blue!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

He is able!

Lately, I’ve needed some concrete reminders of what God IS ABLE to do

  • “He IS ABLE to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” Hebrews 5:2

  • “He IS ABLE to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

  • “He IS ABLE to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

  • “He IS ABLE to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

  • “[He] IS ABLE to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” Jude 1:24

  • “And God IS ABLE to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

  • “[He] IS ABLE to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ode to Kathy

Kathy Cunningham and I have been friends for almost 19 years. When we first met, she was working in a salon where I usually went to get my hair cut by a different stylist. One time, my regular stylist was sick when I was in desperate need of a haircut, so I went to Kathy instead. I never went back to my other stylist. In fact, nobody else cut my hair until Kathy quit cutting hair full time and went to nursing school . . . seventeen years later.
Through the years, I watched as Kathy raised her daughter, Jessie, and every month I'd get a glimpse into Kathy's life. Her deep love for her grandmother. Her devotion to her parents and brothers and nephews. Kathy also became acquainted with my family, and at one time or another, my sister and my parents went to her for haircuts. Kathy got to watch as my tummy grew in pregnancy, and then she got to meet Daniel, and eventually began cutting his hair. After she successfully was able to get him to sit in her chair without crying, he wouldn't let anyone else cut his hair except for "Miss Kathy" (and even these days will tell me that he'd rather go see Kathy than have me take him to the walk-in salon).
When I was going through the rough time of my marriage falling apart, my friendship with Kathy went to a new level. God put me on Kathy's heart one day and she called me to see how I was doing. She did not know that I had recently separated from my husband, but just felt like she should call and check on me. Her care and support during that time was a huge comfort to me and she was there with a listening ear for me whenever I needed her.
Over the years, Kathy shared with me her own hopes and dreams for her life. One of the things she had always wanted to do was to go to nursing school. As Jessie grew up and went to college, Kathy decided to pursue her own dream. She decided to apply to nursing school and started classes in the Fall of 2008. She stopped working at the salon, although she still stayed in touch with some of her clients (me and Daniel included). Nursing school was grueling at times, but she persevered.
This past Monday night, I was honored to be invited to Kathy's Nursing Pinning Ceremony. Daniel and I drove to Columbia State Community College to celebrate her accomplishment. Kathy gave one of the student speeches during the program, making everyone laugh at the way she described the past two years of nursing school. When it was Kathy's turn to receive her pin, her classmates cheered and her teachers were ready with hugs and congratulations. Her family was in the audience, and I'm sure were beaming with pride for her. I know I was, and still am!
I'm thankful to have Kathy as my friend and look forward to seeing how God will use her in the lives of those who are sick and hurting as she begins this new career. She has become not only my friend, but one of my heroes as well.
Way to go, Kathy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Small victory, but I'll take it!

For several weeks now, I've been participating in a very low-key Biggest Loser weight loss competition. When I say "low-key", I mean that there are only 5 or 6 people in the running for the prize money and of that group, only about two of us has really been serious about it.

I've personally had a lot of frustration about the amount of weight I've lost, and have been disappointed that I haven't reached any of the mini-goals and rewards I set up for myself. For example, my first reward is a pedicure when I lose the first five pounds. I have literally lost and gained back the same two stinkin' pounds several weeks in a row, keeping me from my much-desired pedi.

After only seeing a one-pound loss last week, when I was hoping to reach the five-pound mark, I asked my exercise instructor to bring her tape measure so we could see how many inches I've lost. Then this week, with all of the flood relief coordination and busyness, I was not optimistic that I had lost any weight. But I was wrong! I actually lost two pounds (and not the same two I've been losing), making it a two-week losing streak (which is a good thing).

I wish that I could report that I had finally reached the Pedicure Reward, but I'm one pound short. However . . . we took my measurements and in the past two months, I have lost three and a half inches total! I was beginning to tell a difference in the way my clothes fit, but it was so nice to have the confirmation that SOMETHING is happening as a result of the hard work I'm putting into this.

I am much more motivated to keep going, even after the competition is over next week. I will continue to exercise and keep track of my food intake like I have for a while now (even before this latest competition started). My overall goal is to be at a more healthy weight and to be able to sustain a healthier lifestyle for the rest of my life. I have some other plans in the works to help me get there, including starting a new study of the book, A Woman of Moderation, by Dee Brestin, with some women at church. I'll try and keep you posted as I continue on this journey, hopefully sharing more victories along the way!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My arms aren't big enough

Oh how I wish I could give a collective hug to my church family and to the citizens of Nashville! This has been an incredible week in many ways and one that will not be quickly forgotten. I already wrote about some of my thoughts from the May Day Flood of 2010, but I have witnessed so much good will and compassion this week that I have been overwhelmed emotionally.

First of all, I cannot say enough about the awesome people of Grace Community Church. Beginning last Saturday when it became evident that several church members were in danger of getting flooded, concerned friends started posting on Facebook trying to find out information about each other. Throughout the weekend, when hardly anyone could get out to go help, prayers were being lifted up and people were already beginning to agonize for their friends. We even saw news coverage of one of the couples from our church being assisted off a boat after being rescued from the second story of their home, along with their seven grandchildren. (Actually, I missed seeing it on TV because I had changed the channel, but I heard about it.) Families who lived near each other offered dry homes to those who were having to evacuate.

Then on Monday morning, the sun came out and God started drying up all the land. People were able to get out of their subdivisions and assess the damage. We started getting news of those who had sustained damage from the flood, some with water up to the ceiling of their ground floor. People began looking for ways to help. They didn't wait to ask who was going to send them somewhere, they just went.

Once the church staff all arrived at the office on Tuesday morning, we got together to figure out what church members had been most affected and how we could mobilize volunteers. God worked in awesome ways, bringing people together in the neighborhoods that were hard hit, and bringing people to the church office to volunteer and help with the logistics of getting the work done. One couple had been unable to leave their home all weekend, but their home had not sustained damage. We had had no contact with them because their power and phone lines were out, so when they walked into the church office on Tuesday morning, we hugged their necks and then they stepped in to help.

All week long, the days started with us getting reports from the families in need and then mobilizing people to go help them with whatever needed to be done that day: moving furniture, tearing out drywall and carpet, washing muddy clothes and dishes, bringing meals for the volunteers and the families. It was a team effort. Not one person did it by himself.

The thing is, this kind of thing was happening all over Nashville. It wasn't just an effort of Grace Community Church, it was a multitude of volunteers from all walks of life, many different organizations, simply doing what Nashvillians love to do: volunteer and help those in need. Country music stars got in on the action and staged a telethon to raise money for flood victims. The last I heard 1.7 million dollars was raised during the telecast, with more money coming in, I'm sure.

The initial news of the flooding in Tennessee got overlooked by national media, due to seemingly larger issues (NYC bomb threat, Gulf oil spill). Granted, those things were newsworthy, but what finally got the attention of the national news media was not the horrible flooding itself, but the incredible outpouring of volunteers willing to step in and help their fellow neighbor. Sportsblogger Patten Fuqua stepped away from the normal theme of his hockey website to give his thoughts on the subject, coining the phrase, "We are Nashville." CNN's Anderson Cooper also came to town to interview people affected by the flooding. One of the things I heard him say in one interview was that he although he and the other national news media had overlooked the story at first, the real story was what happened afterward. And I think it's better to remembered for how we have stepped up to meet the challenges instead of having the initial story reported and then forgotten.

The clean-up is far from over and Nashville and the mid-state will have far-reaching effects of the flood, but I have never been more proud to call Nashville "home" and have nothing but feelings of love and gratitude to the people here who have given time, money, and muscle power to show love in action this week.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flood thoughts

Many images have gone through my mind over the past four days. Saturday afternoon through Monday morning, I was glued to the TV, watching round-the-clock coverage of the flooding that was happening in Middle Tennessee. I've lived in Nashville for 25 years this August, so this is now "home" to me. It broke my heart to see the waters rising and to see homes surrounded by water and to see familiar landmarks fall victim to the flood. I felt so helpless and wished I could do something to help.

Then on Monday, after the sun came out and I was driving around, trying to go pick up Daniel in one of the flooded areas, the images from the television became more real. Water had receded in many places where I was, but I saw parks and school yards that looked more like lakes, with playground equipment barely sticking up above the water. I saw debris and mud, road barricades and utility workers.

It was on Monday that I started to get some other images imbedded in my mind. These were more hopeful images. The sunshine helped put everything in a new light (pun intended) and people were able to get out and start doing things to help people in need. I saw grocery shoppers buying water, mops, and other supplies--maybe for themselves, but also likely to use for helping others. My favorite image of that day was getting to see my son's face after he finally got back from his dad's house after being flooded in. He had experienced the adventure of evacuating the house and has his own images of the devastation of the flood waters and the compassion of others who came to help with cleanup.

Tonight I have still more images in my mind. These are images of people who volunteered time and effort to help with cleanup efforts. I saw lots of emails in my work inbox, saw people literally mobilized in a matter of minutes, and saw people willing to do whatever tasks were needing to be done. I saw trash bags of muddy clothes come from flooded homes. I saw clothes drying on the church lawn. I saw faces of friends who stopped by to see what needed to be done.

I thankfully did not have damage to my personal home or property, but the images of the May Day Flood of 2010 and its aftermath will not be quickly forgotten in my mind.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A different rainy day story

I'm not gonna rip off any children's books this week. I just thought I'd tell you about my mini-adventure on the way home from getting my hair cut today.

I was turned out of the Nipper's Corner shopping center (the one with Las Palmas and Jon Alan Salon) onto Edmondson Pike. I didn't get very far before there was a little floody place, near the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. I got through it without a problem and headed to the library. I didn't really want to get out of the car in the pouring rain, but I wanted my book that was on hold, so I decided to make the stop.

After I came out of the library to head on down Edmondson Pike toward home, I had to drive through another small floody spot and then as I came up to the light at McMurray, where I would turn to go home, there was a van with the flashers on in the left lane. I pulled up next to it and asked if they needed help. Before I knew it, I was taking two strangers (men) to get some gas in their gas can so they could try to restart their car (they thought it was flooded out from driving through a big puddle).

Now, before anyone thinks I've "lost my sense" (direct quote from my sister, who lovingly expressed her concern after hearing my story), I don't normally do something like this. I might offer to make a phone call, but I would not usually just let two strangers into my car. But for some reason today, I went ahead and decided to help. So, we drove toward Nolensville Road to go to the gas station, coming up on several other floody spots in the road, all still passable. Once we got almost to the intersection where the gas stations are, there was a bigger floody spot and we could see it wasn't passable. Thankfully, I could cut through a shopping center parking lot and get close to the corner to let the guys out so they could go get the gas.

While they were gone, I called my parents to let them know what I was up to (notice I didn't call my sister, knowing she would worry), and then prayed for the whole situation, which weather-wise, was getting worse and there were lots of emergency vehicles and traffic tie-ups, and it was still raining cats and dogs. The two guys finally got back to the car, soaking wet, and we headed back down Edmondson Pike to their van. They were very appreciative for the help I gave them and even offered to mow my lawn (not today) or pay me for my time. I declined their offers, saying that I had been helped when I was in a disabled car before and just asked them to do something for someone else when they get the chance some day.

After I dropped them back at their van, I made my way home, going a little different route to avoid more flooding. I was thankful that God protected me during my "good samaritan" act, but I was also thankful that I had the opportunity to do it. There were other real heroes out there today, helping rescue people who were stuck in cars and homes due to the flooding. Sometimes we just have to step out of our comfort zone and help someone in need.