Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finally Fall!

Today's cooler temps were such a welcome treat, all I can think of is, "It's FINALLY Fall!" It was officially not summer anymore on the calendar this past week, but today was the first real taste of what is to come. Someone asked me if I had ordered the weather today (thanks for the vote of confidence). I can't take credit for the weather, but if I did have a vote in the matter, after a cold winter, the Flood in May and the four full months of sweltering summer weather, I'd definitely say that Nashville deserves to have the most beautiful and glorious Fall this year.

Fall is my favorite season of the year, so I am always excited when it finally gets here after the long, hot, summer. Tonight as I was shopping for groceries, I passed by pretty slices of watermelon, which would have turned my head a couple of weeks ago. But watermelon is a summer fruit, in my mind, so now I'm ready for pumpkin and apples. And not just any apples. I am an apple connoisseur and apples are my favorite food, so I like to get crisp, tart Braeburns. Or the "BMW" of apples, Honey Crisp!

And one last hint that Fall is fast approaching:  I have been seeing leaves falling and starting to gather on the ground. I realize that we've had a dry spell lately, so some of them have just dropped off the trees before turning colors, but I have started to see the early signs of Fall color and I just hope that we have some brilliant color showings in Middle Tennessee this year.

Stay tuned . . . I'll be out taking pictures and will hopefully have some good ones to share.

Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sister Saturday

They both look a little tentative, but oh, so cute!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Help Me, Thank You

I just recently discovered the recording artist, Jason Gray, thanks to my sister and brother-in-law. He's got a hit song on Christian radio these days called, "More Like Falling in Love," which is good, but the song below is very catchy and I love the lyrics (you'll have to look for it on iTunes to hear the audio).

Help Me, Thank You

The two best prayers I know
Either one is always apropos
Like my oldest friends
They know just what to say
Some days my cup of blessing fills
Other days I trip and when it spills
I'm not guessing either way
I know just what to pray

Help me, help me
Thank you, thank you
Whether you're riding high or feeling low
These are the two best prayers I know
"Help me" and "thank you"

The more life I live I find
The two prayers intertwine
Like my fingers do
When I bow my head to pray
Blessings can be so confusing
Winning when I think I'm losing
The wounds of yesterday
Might be my saving grace today

Help me, help me
Thank you, thank you
Whether you're riding high or feeling low
These are the two best prayers I know
"Help me" and "thank you"

With eyes wide open at the wonder of it all
Or with broken wings when I'm spinning in free fall
"Hallelujah!" "Deliver me!"
They're rising up inside of me
Rolling off my tongue,
Before I thought to bid them come

By:  Jason Gray and Randall Goodgame

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Change is (sometimes) good!

If you know me very well, you know that I don't do change very well. Or maybe it's not that I don't do it well, I just don't do it very often. I get things the way I like them and then I am happy to live with them the same way for a long time (this applies to most things, like decorating, clothing, hairstyle, etc.).

Case in point: My Blog. I started it almost three years ago, I think, and I have only changed the background template one time! I think I might have rearranged things a little here and there, but never anything drastic. It wasn't always that I didn't want to change it, but either didn't want to take the time or spend money finding a new design.

Well, as you can see, today that all changed! I was killing time and thought I'd check out the new templates that Blogger was offering (for free) and ran across this one. It was made for me! It's my favorite color and I love the subtle background design. It makes me happy!

So it turns out that change isn't always bad (that's directed at myself, in case you're wondering). And you are allowed to remind me of that fact the next time something more major than a blog background is changing in my life!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Miss Hollyrock lives on!

The first picture was taken on a September Sunday afternoon at the Greenway. Erica wanted to wear my sunglasses and
of course, I obliged!
The second picture was taken last week on Labor Day. Once again, Erica swiped some sunglasses, this time her daddy's.
She's got the look!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I remember . . . 9/11/2001

On this ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, I have lots of thoughts flooding through my mind. One thought was whether those who were alive back then ever be able to forget where they were when they heard the news, or be able to erase the images from our minds. I have to admit, I was about to get up on my judgemental high horse and say, "How could we ever forget?"

But then, I looked back to see what I might have written on this blog on past anniversaries of 9/11, and you know what? I didn't write anything! I am almost ashamed to say that last year, I wrote a post on September 11th that was totally self-absorbed (about my struggle with not eating sugar). My word!

The other side of the argument, in my head, is that yes, we want and need to remember the events of nine years ago, but we also have had to move forward, both as a country and as individuals. Easier said than done for those who lost loved ones or who lived and worked in the areas that were literally attacked that day. So while I don't ever want to forget how I felt and what I saw on TV, I pray that all of us, especially the ones most closely affected by the tragedy, will have new memories to bring up this year, memories of healing and forgiveness, of things that God has done to renew, restore and bring beauty from the ashes.

I grew up just across the river from the World Trade Center, so the images from New York on 9/11/01 and afterward made the most impact on me personally. I still miss seeing the Twin Towers in the skyline and wish that I could take Daniel (and others) up to the top of the World Trade Center to see the view. Although I've been back to NYC since 2001, I have not been to see any of the memorials and I hope I can do that one day.

For today, though, I'll take some time to think back on what I remember from that day and will think about the people who lost lives and loved ones in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the field in Pennsylvania. I will also praise my God, who long before the events of 2001, sent His Son to be the Healer of the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1-4).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fun Give-away

I have this annoying tendency to wait until the last minute to do stuff that could have been done much earlier. For instance, I might get an email with a coupon code for a free photo book from Shutterfly, which expires in, say, 30 days. What do I do? I end up procrastinating until it is the night before the expiration date and then I have to scramble and upload pictures and don't get to be as creative as I'd like to be with the book. Sigh.

Well, here's another example of me waiting until the last minute to tell you about something, but since the deadline is "only" midnight tonight, you still have "plenty" of time to get in on the drawing!

Right now, go to this blog and enter to win this very fun lunch tote from this cool company called Thirty One. I have only recently heard of these bags and boy would I go into deep debt if I allowed myself to attend a party! I love almost everything I've seen in the catalog and this the lunch tote would be fun to win (even if you win instead of me!).

And I will work on my annoying tendency to procrastinate so that I can give you more notice when the next blog give-away comes along.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gimme a J!

In honor of my sister's birthday I thought I'd make up a cheer for her! One of Jeanette's favorite "games" to play at family birthday occasions is for everyone to go around and say something that they love about the birthday person. So, in keeping with her tradition, each letter tells something that I love and admire about her.

Gimme a J!
Jeanette is one of the most JOYFUL people I know. It is rare that she's not smiling or causing others to smile.

Gimme an E!
Jeanette has always had a lot of ENTHUSIASM for everything she does. Whether it was skateboarding or playing the drums in the marching band or singing the lyrics to her favorite Billy Joel song, and these days, being a mommy to Erica and Mary Lane, my sister lives life with gusto.

Gimme an A!
My sister has always been the more ADVENTUROUS one of the two of us. I have typically been the cautious firstborn, testing the waters before jumping in. But not Jeanette. Early on, she wasn't afraid to try new things and didn't seem to be afraid of anything (except birds and dogs). When she was in her twenties, Jeanette thought it would be fun to go skydiving, so she and some friends found a place to go on a tandem flight and she had a blast! At the time, I thought she was a little crazy for doing it, but now I admire her sense of adventure and kind of think I'd like to try it someday myself!

Gimme an N!
One word that definitely describes Jeanette is NICE. She has always had a knack for seeing the good in others and has a sensitive heart that loves to show kindness to those around her.

Gimme an E!
Jeanette has always been EASY-GOING and easy to get along with. Especially when we were growing up, I was the serious one and she was fun-loving and laid back. It takes a lot to make her mad and she doesn't seem to mind going with the flow of whatever is happening around her. I think she has rubbed off on me over the years, though, because I think that I've mellowed out as I've gotten older!

Gimme a T!
Like I mentioned above, Jeanette has a TENDER heart. Growing up, she was always quick to forgive me for my older sister meanness, and she had such a sweet way of mothering her baby dolls (even if she carried her baby Suzy by the hair). Jeanette was the one who wanted to have a pet and whether it was our goldfish, the hermit crabs or finally, a puppy, she had a tender place in her heart for other creatures.

Gimme another T!
Another trait that I admire about my sister is that she is TRUSTWORTHY. Jeanette is a loyal friend and has always been someone who will keep something in confidence and who you can trust with your feelings and emotions.

Gimme an E!
Over the years, one thing that has helped me through many a rough or low time has been her ENCOURAGEMENT. Whether I needed a boost of confidence to change my hairstyle or to know whether an outfit looked OK, or if I was in need of a pick-me-up during a hard day, Jeanette has had words to encourage and uplift me. She can find the good in people and situations and helps me to see the positive side of whatever is going on at the moment.

What's that spell? JEANETTE!
Who do I wish a Happy, Happy Birthday? JEANETTE!

Fishing With Friends Day

Last Sunday, we had the blessing of volunteering at a Fishing With Friends Day in East Tennessee. Our good friends, Doug and Leanne Goddard, are the co-founders of this ministry, which offers fishing and outdoor recreational activities to individuals and families who are effected by disabilities. This event was held on Douglas Lake, in Dandridge, Tennessee, which is a few miles east of Knoxville and the Sevierville area.

This was the first time that Daniel and I had the opportunity to volunteer with an event like this and it was awesome to see God work to provide a fun day for the people who came. There were over 400 people who came out, either as participants or volunteers. Doug and Leanne were in their element, using the gifts that God has given them and working together as a couple to lead the efforts. Daniel and I helped set up for the event, which started at 3:00 that afternoon, and then we mostly worked in the photography area, getting the SD cards back and forth from the cameras at the dock, and printing over 200 photos for participants to take home with them. Just seeing the smiles on the faces in the photos and hearing the excitement of people as they passed by the photo tent, gave me a huge blessing and I was so glad to be able to help out.

Like I said, it was a joint effort of many people: Church Youth groups, Boy Scouts, TVRA, professional fishermen and their families, and other non-profits, as well as our friends, the Goddards and the Umbargers. Below are some pictures of "the kids" (Rachel Umbarger, Rebekah Umbarger and Daniel) and if I can somehow figure out how to get a PDF photo collage of the day into this post, I will (otherwise, if you click on this link, you can see photos from other events which will give you an idea of what it is like).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sister Saturday

Today's Sister Saturday is dedicated to my wonderful sister who has a birthday on Monday! I'll post more later in her honor, but for now, I hope all her wishes come true!