Welcome to my blog!

So the truth is that trying to survive in our world as a woman is hard enough at times but toss in some Christianity and you got yourself quite a challenge. My name is Miranda and welcome to my blog. I recently married the love of my life and went from the single life to the newly married adventure. I'm sure my upcoming writings will dive into this new and exciting stage of my life. Sometimes life is quite funny, sometimes it's downright entertaining, and sometimes it can get a little bit more serious. I love God and want to live a life that pleases him but that sometimes is easier said than done. :) So join me as I walk through the trials, struggles and joys of life when the only thing that works is a little chocolate and a lot of faith.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What do you smell like?

I have been wanting to write this particular blog for a while now but my life has gotten attacked by 'holiday mania' and I have been swamped. I am happy to have an evening at home to get these thoughts down for myself and for you.

It all began a few weeks ago when I got a whiff of Old Spice (the original), and my head and heart were immediately flooded with thoughts of my dad. He always wore Old Spice and smelled absolutely amazing. When I think of him I am almost always happy that my dad is home with the Lord and not suffering anymore, but it's moments like that one that I just want my daddy here.

It made me begin to think about how smells can trigger memories or feelings either good or bad. You know what I'm talking about, you all smell...uh...let me re-phrase that...you all experience smells :) sorry, couldn't help myself. A lot of smells are pleasant to me. I love the smell of the outdoors after a heavy rain. When I'm leaving work some days, the bakery down the street will be baking fresh bread and the smell is enough to make me drool a little. I love walking into my house and it smelling like fresh laundry and I love the smell of babies (in a non-poopie state of course). Plus there is hardly anything that could compare to the smell of a cup of freshly brewed coffee (sprinkled with great company) or a bouquet of fresh flowers that reminds you of how much you are loved every time you look at them...

Of course on the other side of the coin there are those whiffs that make you want to donate your sense of smell to a curbside charity. I recently was waiting on a customer and I wanted to write out my last will and testament because I wasn't sure I would make it through the entire transaction alive! I think I may have to invest in Lysol stock pretty soon. Lol! One day recently I encountered someone who wore so much perfume on that I literally became sick to my stomach. It was like a smelling a fragrance factory in rebellion. Then there are the smells that remind you of being sick or that stench that remains with you for days after you accidentally microwave your spaghetti and meatballs in a plastic bowl for 20 minutes instead of 2 and manage to melt it all into a congealed glob of black tar...not speaking from experience...

You get the picture, smells will trigger either great feelings or make you throw up a little in your mouth. Then I was reading my Bible and I came across these words in 2 Corinthians- "For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life..." Hmmm...it made me begin to wonder what I 'smelled' like to those around me. Am I living the kind of life that produces that pleasing aroma? Does my life in Christ cause those who are seeking Him to rejoice? Does it challenge and convict those who are not? I want my life to be that pleasing aroma of Christ above everything else, to be able to love people the way He does...regardless of what they smell like :) That's my goal. What do you smell like?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Highs and Lows

Ever feel like you are on a roller coaster? You know the feeling I’m talking about? When something amazing happens, everything seems great and you are on this high? But then all of a sudden out of the blue something happens and you find yourself plummeting to a whole different place and wondering how on earth you would ever get back to where you were? That feeling!

Maybe this is an experience I alone have had or maybe I’m preaching to the choir. Either way, it seems the past year I have seen this more than ever before in my own life. Personally I feel there are many things that I can attribute these highs and lows to (my height not being one of them). Haha!

First off, I have been having these little health issues. I remember the good old days of scoffing at the ridiculous thought of stretching to straighten out my back in the morning – now I won’t tell you how long it takes me to actually get going. Isn’t this supposed to happen when my dentures are soaking on my night stand and my anti-wrinkle miracle cream is overtaking my medicine cabinet? Well needless to say it is a challenge to maintain a positive attitude on days you don’t feel the greatest. Thank God for healthy days. I will say those other days do make you appreciate life and friends and family so much more.

Secondly, I find my goals in life changing as I grow umm…more mature. I find myself wanting my life to count not just to go through the motions. I want to leave behind a legacy of a woman who loved God and lived for Him you know? I mean don’t get me wrong the goal of seeing how many marshmallows you could stuff in your mouth in a round of chubby bunny is also extremely important,  but the greatest highs are those days when I sense that I am making a difference, that my life counts, that I am fulfilling my destiny. I am desperate for my life to be filled with more of those moments.

Thirdly, I find myself developing a ‘woe is me’ complex at times. Not often but I have noticed that these times are normally preceded by the feeling of irritation (normally caused by exhaustion or hunger), a sneak attack of jealousy or anger, followed by the overwhelming case of sadness and of course a good pity party. (OK I admit that there may be some hormonal craziness mixed up in these moments) –don’t judge me! Lol! The truth is feeling sorry for yourself just makes you more miserable and who really needs that kind of commitment? Life on this earth is short enough as is.

Finally there is that nagging little thing called doubt. It never fails that on my best days it could derail good intentions, destroy God given dreams and demolish faith. It is the enemy (well with the exception of triple chocolate molten lava cake topped with rich vanilla ice cream-but that is more like a frienemy- where was I?) Oh yeah, it’s funny how once I begin to question the goodness or the promises of God how easy it is to fall into the trap of questioning everything.

Can I be honest? This is my blog after all so I guess I can get as real as I want to. I sometimes wonder why my life went the way it did. I mean I always thought I would graduate from high school, go to college, get a degree, land a fabulous job making great money, meet the man of my dreams, get married, have the cute picket fence home in the suburbs with my 2.5 children (if you count the outdoor dog), work from home writing so I could be a stay at home mom for my twins until they go off to kindergarten and I rejoin the workforce. There was something else…oh yeah and live happily ever after.

Well then I met Jesus and decided that following Him was the single smartest thing that I could possibly do in my life. Well apparently that verse that says God’s ways aren’t our ways actually is true-go figure! Turns out my entire life plan got messed up. I mean I didn’t count on my dad dying (that wasn’t supposed to happen- he was the greatest! and who on earth will walk me down the aisle now if I happen to find a man?). I moved to a whole other country, gave up the college dream because I had a family to take care of and I had to get a job. So I struggle to go back part time, my sister got sick, my finances are not what they could be, still waiting on Mr. Right and slowly watching the dream of children slip away and I’m trying my best to serve God to the best that I can guesstimate that He wants me to but constantly falling short. I see that the plan God had is certainly not the one I had in mind. It has been filled with highs and lows I never expected.

Then, there’s a moment like last Sunday when I danced in church and was able to worship God in a new way. I’m always concerned that I don’t put on a ‘show’ I hope that people see God through it you know? So one of the guys from church met me the next day and told me that it was really moving. He said he was really surprised and felt silly because of his own reaction. And when I asked why, he said he was watching and he began to get chills and all of a sudden he wasn’t even seeing me but sensing the presence of God and he shook himself because he thought ‘I’m a guy, this shouldn’t affect me like this.”

Stop the press! If we are talking about highs, it doesn't get much higher. I felt like God used me to help someone worship Him- wow!!! I was humbled. Now, did I ever see myself doing something like that in my plans? No way! but God’s plans? So much higher than mine…so much better than I could ever dream… Keep you posted on what’s next in this great adventure.  Much love!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Redeeming the Time

It's funny how we can get so caught up with 'life' that we forget to truly 'live'. It's easy to fall into a rut. We've all been there at one point or another when our lives become complacent. We do the same things, go to the same places, take the same routes to get there and if we are not careful we could let go off dreams that we had dreamed and end up looking back on a life that may or may not have been filled with good times but also with possible regrets.

At a Bible study recently we were talking about making every moment count. Not wasting the very limited amount of time that we have been given. We also talked about the fact that the people who we dreamed of becoming may not be who we are today. Personally I had wanted to grow up to be like my dad. He loved God and people and people everywhere loved him. He was a good man. He never missed an opportunity to be kind or generous. He wasn't wealthy by any means but he sure taught us to be thankful for what we had. Some of those values will stay with me forever and as I get older I see more of those characteristics in me. But I'm sure my dad did not have to deal with the 'crazy' that comes every month when you are a woman. :) It might be a tad more difficult for me.

I look back on my life and I definitely have regrets. Some due to my own choices but others due to the circumstances that I was thrust into. Dreams that I had, have been swallowed up by other demands on my life. But is that an excuse? At some point I believe we get chances to pick up where we left off. The catch is that it sometimes takes work. Actually more often than not it takes a lot of hard work and discipline to achieve some of the things we want in life.

One of my dreams is to be an author, that means that I have to discipline myself to write. Even when I don't feel like it. Even when I want to scrap the whole thing and start over. Even when it seems like everything else in my life is more important at that moment. If I want it, then it's on me! I love writing my blog but I get so busy I forget to keep up, I have to decide I am going to do this and schedule times to write like any other appointment I might have. Plus, I think it's important to use the gifts and talents that God has given us. One of my favorite quotations is by Henry David Thoreau: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

I want to let my song be heard. How about you? I think I need to re-acquaint myself with some of the dreams in my heart especially since God is the Dream-Giver. I'd say it will be worth the extra effort!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wonderful World of Photography!

So a few months ago my BFF and I decided to start a photography business. We did a wedding for a friend and it turned out so well that we decided to run with the crazy idea. Well starting a business takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Between the insanity of our regular jobs, families, church activities and social networking we managed to somehow put the pieces in place. Slow start but believing that God will bless the work.

So yesterday we had our first job involving children. Let me just say I have a new level of respect for children's church workers, day care employees, kindergarten teachers and parents of more than one child everywhere. Lol! I will tell you this, between the moving of furniture, entertaining children, posing children, setting up equipment, dragging children, forcing children to smile, getting the lighting just right, chasing children, making children stop crying, getting 2 cameras ready for action, feeding children, making children laugh, hauling in props, holding children still, making children look in certain directions, laying on the ground to get great angles, fixing children's clothes, threatening children, standing on exercise equipment for a different perspective, fixing children's clothes, bribing children, moving the party outside, bringing out toys to distract children, preventing children from trampling tiny rat dog, tearing everything down, calming children down, loving children and packing up...we were exhausted!!!! :)

Not kidding when I say it was an eye opening experience. We agreed that weddings are a lot less challenging. But since we now have 3 more photo shoots scheduled with families and lots and lots of children (and no weddings) I think God must be trying to teach us something. Haha!

What fascinated me were the different personalities that these kids had, even though they were from the same family line, each one was unique.

The oldest boy was very obedient, he did whatever we asked him to, no attitude, he was adorable. You could tell that he'd been down this road before and knew how to handle it. The other kids were younger.

The next one in line was a little energy ball. He no sooner hit the ground than he was off running. Finding a monster truck he was focused on playing, but then he saw a ball and he was off again. Posing him for pics was challenging because we literally had a 2 second window that he would sit still for and then he was gone.

The third down the line was almost a little over 1 and he had trouble focusing on us. We needed all sorts of things to grab his attention. We held up a mirror so he could see his reflection, we broke out Elmo and even had grandma doing her thing to keep him interested. But soon enough he would get hungry and need his bottle because the other things just didn't seem to satisfy him like his real food.

Our final little one was a mere 3 month all bundle of chubby cheeks and wide eyes. He didn't protest much (quite frankly he pretty much just laid there the whole time) but he just seemed to soak up everything that was going on around him. The cameras, the flashes, the lights, the people he just was trying to take it all in at once. His eyes and little hands just kept moving. Like I said, so fascinating!

The dad was awesome to watch as well. He had such patience, one of the kids would race off and he would go and get them and bring them back to the place where they needed to be. It seemed like they would just keep doing that but their father always went after them and would tell them again what they needed to do.

I love how God will show us things when our hearts are ready and willing to listen. I realized that these kids all represented phases of the Christian walk.

The oldest was like a more seasoned Christian. One who understands that obedience leads to blessing, one who has been through a lot and so knows about God's faithfulness and that this is another step in the journey.

The second child reminds me of the Christian who gets so excited about things and get really involved and pour themselves in it but then something else comes along that appears more exciting and so they are ready to jump into that. They are so busy going from one thing to the next that they barely sit still long enough to experience all that God may have for them.

The third child reminds of the Christian who can get caught up in the 'show'. That person loves the hype, they follow the conferences, get excited with the music and dance, they go from event to event looking for the next high but in the end the only thing that could truly satisfy them is time spent in the Word. Something that is sustaining and rich.

The last one is like the brand new Christian, starting out they are fun to watch as they discover the world around them, getting to know the different promises of God and seeing Him at work. It is almost overwhelming in a good way. They don't know where to look because they are surrounded by a new life.

But probably the most awesome part of the afternoon (besides it being over and me being able to find food and take a nap :) was watching dad. He made me think of our Abba Father whose mercies are new every day. Over and over again we may make poor decisions, we walk away from God, we choose our ways instead of His, we get involved in things we shouldn't and over and over God comes after us, bringing us back to the place where we were, giving us chance after chance to accept His grace and walk in His ways because He knows what's best for us and He has a plan. Wow! Kinda gives fresh revelation to His compassions never failing doesn't it? I am so grateful because I have been that kid running off more times than I can count, 'but for the grace of God...'

Hey friends, do me a favor and share something neat that God has shown you. I would love to hear. Till next time :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Not Always Easy

It's funny how we can make plans and dream dreams and in a split second life can change. I've been noticing it more and more recently as even the things that I have been hoping for and praying for seem to crumble around me without ever coming to life. I think these ideas are from God and then they don't go the way I thought they would, I find myself questioning whether I had heard from God to begin with. I've come to realize that things happen and we don't always understand why but these times become defining moments in our lives as to how we move forward.

I have a friend who is like a dad to me who was one of the most vibrant people I ever met. He loved God and taught me about living - real living - not canned Christianity but really living out loud. Unfortunately a stroke 2 years ago and bad medical decisions completely changed his life and his family's. Before he had his stroke he was telling me about dreams that he had been dreaming and praying about and things that he felt God was calling him to do. He was so excited at the time but barely a week later his life was turned upside down leaving behind loved ones with a lot of questions and desperately clinging to the goodness and omnipotence of a God who knows the end from the beginning. Not what was expected at all. So were those dreams and visions he had from God? Is God going to miraculously fulfill them in his life? Do we listen to the report of doctors and nurses who say that his loved ones should just let him go or do we believe the report of the God that heals?

This young man that I met a year ago was a great guy, says he knew the Lord but was not really walking with Him at the time. But there was amazing potential there. During the last year I didn't have much contact with him but recently ran into him again and was surprised to find that he was not the same person I had known a year ago. The potential that had been there now seemed to be lost, buried behind a wall of lies and deception. I had made a commitment to pray for this guy when I could see the potential for God to do great things in him. Now that the view is not so clear, do I still pray for him? Do I still pray for his return to the Lord when I don't even care to see him again? Do I still cry out for something that seems impossible' to the God of the impossible?

What about the fact that I had big dreams of doing something great, of changing my situation and circumstances. Dreams that I felt for sure God had planted in my heart and I was growing more excited about by the minute. Then one day factors changed and all of a sudden the change that I was longing for suddenly became invisible amidst a cloud of doubt and a broken heart. What happens when I can't see the 'vision' anymore? Were those ideas and thoughts from God? If they were why are they now changing? Do I resign myself to 'perish'? or do I trust that God already knew this change was going to take place and He still has a plan for my life that will give me a future and a hope when all I see is a dead end?

As much as I hate it, life on this fallen planet is not always easy. Decisions and choices that we face every day are hard. Trusting God with it sometimes, at least for myself, comes in as the runner up because my human nature thinks if I can control the situation I can correctly predict my destiny. Here's the problem with that though -

(1) God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts higher than ours.
(2) He is the God who calls things that are not as though they were.
(3) He says He will never leave us or forsake us.
(4) He is the One who gave up His only Son for me to have eternal life. He knows sacrifice and pain.

Makes me stop and repent for ever doubting Him. Yet He knows that I do and I will and He still loves me and continues to draw me to Him. Things don't always turn out the way we expect it but we have the choice to trust God or ourselves. I don't know about you, but my track record hasn't been too great so I'm going to go with God no matter what because in this life, I will need as much help as I could get.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I remember when I bought my first car and it cost me a grand total of $16.00 to top off my tank. Today the number 16 only refers to the number of gallons it can hold because in dollars and cents that would barely get me to Wal-mart! Of course let's face it, gas isn't the only thing that costs more- from gum to cars, you name it, the numbers keep escalating.

When prices go up we notice because it touches us personally, you know, our wallets! It causes us to change how we handle our finances, do our budget, balance our spending, pay our bills etc. Change never comes easily but I have found as I get ol...umm...more mature, change is inevitable. What do I mean? Well let's see besides the cost of living, here are a few other areas that I have found myself having to make adjustments:

The 30 Hill! When I was in my twenties I thought 'this is the life.' I could eat anything I want and not gain an ounce, I always was full of energy, I was okay with waiting because I was young, I could still become anything I wanted, I could go wherever I wanted...the world was at my fingertips and there was no hurry or worry. Then I turned 30 and it all changed. Suddenly my body began to betray me, I started developing this soft inner tube like thing around my stomach area-what is that? And why won't it go away? If this had made an appearance 5 years ago I could probably go for a bike ride and it would go away, now, it clings on for dear life, my goal now is to eliminate it...slowly.

I remember the days that I could wake up and spring out of bed and if I dropped something I would bend down and pick it up and be on my way...I miss those days (insert tear here). The good news is that I have discovered muscles that I never knew I had, the bad news is that I know they are there now because they hurt. The first day I bent down to pick up something and let out a grunt...well...sad. Oh days of rebound, how I long for you.

Not only is my body changing (not all for the bad, but definitely not all for the good either)), but my health is as well. What are all these aches that have mysteriously set up camp? I never had much health issues but now I've been struggling with one for a couple years and the most frustrating part is the lack of diagnosis. It's like we must doctor ourselves these days. I see so many of my friends and family also experiencing changes in their health for no apparent reasons and I long for the free from pain days. Don't get me wrong, I have many good days but I am certainly reminded often that it is not what it used to be.

Then there are the relationship changes. Friends that come in for seasons and then go and then friends that come and will be there for life and you can't imagine what life was like before and don't want to think of life without. Family relationships change, suddenly those close to you are growing up and getting lives of their own, dating, working, traveling...changing the very dynamics of how you interact and preparing for the next stage. Changing schools, churches or jobs presents a continuous flow of new people whose lives you will touch and some of whom will touch yours and change it.

Not to mention how your perspectives change, your likes and dislikes (I mean I love golf and four wheeling, go figure!)

Change is sometimes hard, sometimes easy, sometimes not the best, sometimes really good, but always, always inevitable. So I have found that I really have only one choice when it comes to change and that is my attitude. I can fight it, or embrace it. As a Christian I have to trust what God says, "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future," and "The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord." Right? He already knows all the changes I will encounter on this journey. For you too. So do I trust Him? Do I pray that He gives me wisdom be a good steward of my finances? Do I trust that if I eat right and exercise my body will be healthier? Do I know that He is the God that heals and the God that leads? Do I believe?

Change is going to come and when it's all said and done I would rather stick with the One who already knows the end from the beginning than try to figure it all out. I'm tired just thinking about it. (I think that is another sign of getting ol...umm more mature) :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seeing Faces in the Crowd

People intrigue me. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit in a crowded mall and just people watch (if you haven't done it, try it sometime, trust me, better than cable):) I find that we are a peculiar race. Everyone is always headed somewhere, doing something,goals, plans, go go go, do,do,do. These various idiosyncrasies of individuals are what make this life interesting. Some are for the better and some not so much so. But in everything, in every situation I have found that there is more than meets the eye. There are also important lessons to be learned in everyday encounters. Here are a few of my personal observations:

I have noticed that most people are fairly polite. If I greet someone there is a good chance that possibly 90% will respond, however how many of us actually care about those responses? There is this guy who visits my work place and every time you ask him how he's doing he responds "average fair". Not one of your typical responses but honest no doubt. When someone asks "how's it going?" I have found that they don't actually listen to the response that follows. For instance how many times have you been at a check out counter and asked the cashier "how's it going?" and don't even hear the answer because you assume it's "good"? Right? Our minds are already processing the next thing on our agenda. I know in the past I have had to make myself pay attention to what people say because their answers can surprise us. I remember someone saying once that they 'had better days'. Come to find out that person was going through a tough time. I think we miss out on more opportunities to share Christ, to be an encouragement or just to make someone feel like they matter simply because we are not so much about the Father's business as much as our own.

People are not always the most polite or friendly, so sometimes sharing that Christ-like love is not quite so forthcoming. I sometimes more feel like sharing a piece of my mind but gotta save that for a rainy day :) For instance I sometimes wait on the most obnoxious people who think the world revolves around them and we are there to be their personal peons. I wonder what gives someone the right to think they could use swear words or be crass in a conversation and that simply by saying "please excuse my language" suddenly makes their arrogance and rudeness acceptable? Honestly? Just because you are supposed to be there to wait on someone does not give them the right to be inconsiderate or rude. There is a thing that still exists that is known as respect. Quite frankly I get pretty miffed when I have to listen to someone speak to me directly or about someone else using offensive language and I don't feel obligated to put up with it. How about using one of the other billion words in the English language instead of apologizing for the use of the foul ones? I truly believe that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (gotta wonder what some of these hearts are filled with). For the most part I will share with someone that their language is unacceptable. Being a Christian does not mean getting walked over. My Jesus never failed to speak up for what was right. If people were always allowed to be offensive because no one called them on it, is it fair to them or the people who have to listen to them? I've had people come back in and apologize for using that kind of language. As in any area if one doesn't see one's sin how can one fix it?

Or how about the way we can quote "never judge a book by its cover" yet have a hard time actually living by those standards day after day. I know that someones appearance, speech and even smell make strong first impressions. So much so in some cases that we never see beyond that first glance. I confess, I have done it and perhaps will mess up and do it again. But oh boy, what happens when we venture to dig deeper? Sometimes things get worse granted, but many times life surprises us. I met this woman once who I thought at first was homeless, she was dirty, her clothes were stained and her hair unkempt and stringy. She was older and I was ready to write her off but then this woman started talking to me and after getting over the act of obligatory listening I really began to hear what she was saying. She was working on her Master's degree and was so well read it blew me away. Her opinions and comments were insightful and intelligent and she was confident in what she knew. Obviously others had seen past her exterior because she was a very influential part of a new up and coming program of the Arts at her school. Stop! Holy Spirit check! Humbled me to know that I was almost disgusted by this woman because of what I 'assumed' (let's not delve into that one).I could have missed out on getting to know someone super special because of my shortsightedness. Golly am I glad that God does not write us off that way. He sees us, the inside, all that He put within us, dreams, vision, talents, all that He has planned for us.

What would happen if we started truly seeing people the way God sees us? I mean, what kind of revolution would we start if we actually started caring. Being the Church, displaying His heart. Do you think maybe we would stop being so self-absorbed and start changing lives? Maybe we would see revival in our churches, our schools, our workplaces, our communities, our towns, our counties...Here is the key, which I am daily trying to grasp, every encounter, every person, every situation is a chance for God to be God in us and through us...if we would let Him. I challenge myself...I challenge you to make a difference.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

True Wisdom

Last Friday I had the very harrowing, near death experience of having one of my wisdom teeth removed. Why are wisdom teeth so silly anyways? I am not even exaggerating. I spent the prior 2 weeks hearing one horror story after the next about extreme pain, liquid diets, dry sockets, blood clots, infection etc. Is it really any wonder that I was slightly petrified to have this procedure done?

Then my Pastor asks me to speak on Father's Day and I was super excited to be able to share God's word until I realized I was going to undergo major surgery on my mouth 2 days before. Yikes! Well of course that wonderful 'peace that passes all understanding' zoomed right past me and I started freaking out...just a little. I felt a level of calm returning when my friend assured me that it was a piece of cake. Apparently she had gotten all 4 of hers out in 15 minutes with no repercussions. I'm not sure I'll ever take her medical advice again. Lol!

Friday came and accompanied by my mom, sister and best friend (We definitely occupied the majority of chairs in the waiting room) I went to have this procedure done. While there I considered writing a will...but was too nervous to write. Once inside the surgeon sat and explained the details and offered me the opportunity to postpone (hindsight is 20/20 of course, should have jumped at that offer).

Well all numbed up, I sat in the cold, sterile room awaiting my fate, my very destiny as my heart thumped wildly against my chest (golly this is beginning to sound like a cheap novel). The surgeon finally returns and for the next 15 minutes tests the very mettle of my cheek, jaw and face. Now, when you can feel the roots of something being extracted from your face I say there is a problem. But yahoo I survived! By the time I left I had a massive amount of instructions to follow, my cheek was much fatter, my mouth much smaller and my wallet much emptier. I didn't do much that day but ventured out the next.

Well much activity plus recent surgery equals major swelling and I found that by Saturday night I was bearing a striking resemblance to Alvin Seville. I was freaking out again. Just a little bit hysterical as I was consumed with how everyone would view my chubby deformed cheek. Well, since I was staying over at my friend's house she reminded me that even if I looked like a chipmunk I still had to speak and it wasn't about me anyways!

Ahh the truth! Sometimes difficult to face. I got so wrapped up in the extraction that I forgot to trust God with it instead of being consumed by fear and apprehension, I got so self-conscious when I thought about people noticing how I looked and being distracted that I forgot briefly that it really was about God not about me. Good friends tend to serve as good advisors whether we want their advice at the time or not. I repented and prayed.

On Sunday I woke up in pain and still swollen and tried desperately to conjure up a new sweeping hairstyle to hide chubby cheek but decided that it wasn't about what I looked like, it was about what God was doing. What is that scripture? Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will lift you up in due time? I had to swallow my pride and you know what, God blessed me. The services went great and no one (even if they did notice) once mentioned my cheek. I was thrilled to rediscover how God takes care of His people and accomplishes his work through us when we will lay aside our own selfish ambition and take on His instead.

Monday, May 31, 2010


So in the past few days I seem to have done a few things for the first time (thank goodness taking a shower was not on that list - been there, done that!!!) :) Haha!
Of course I know that you would desperately want to know what these things were so who am I to deny you that joy?

Let's see, a couple weeks ago I went to a drive-in movie for the very first time (don't laugh), that turned out to be a fun time. The movies I saw were great How to Train your Dragon and Ironman II. I recommend them both. Things got a little hairy though when I needed to go to the ladies' room during intermission and unfortunately one other time (note to self-no liquids at drive in). Let's just say I think the smell that emanated from in there singed some of my nose hairs off. Plus how about they had one of those fabric roll towels where if you pull the lever the next section is supposed to be clean? Apparently these people were into recycling. Glad I have a supply of hand sanitizer in my car. But here's the interesting part, the first time through, one of the other stalls was occupied by someone with pinkish sneakers and then about an hour later I return and that same stall was occupied by the same pinkish sneakers. I'm hoping that the person didn't die from asphyxiation.

Next on the first list was my four-wheeling adventure. Never before have I been on one of those machines and was very leery when my friend offered to take me for a ride. I was holding on for dear life I can tell you. We went over hills and ponds and rode through a group of horses. Freaked me out a little when some of them started galloping alongside the four wheeler. Then just when I thought I could get used to this a very steep hill came into the picture as we rode along the side of it. I thought the thing would flip over and we would roll down the hill. Yikes! But then I had to go open a gate to get through and snagged my arm on some barbed wire. Ouch! Go figure it was rusted barbed wire. So there I am wondering when I had my last tetanus shot and thinking I suddenly didn't feel too good and my friend offered to let me drive. Distracted from my grave injury momentarily I realized I was having fun!

Next I was helping out my friend by watering her plants when she got the brilliant (I use that term very loosely) idea to let me color her hair so it would set while she was doing yard work. Now I have to say I had no prior knowledge of hair color. Actually I had never even seen what comes in the box. Secondly I am a person who reads the instruction booklet for anything from cover to cover. Now I was being asked to color someone's hair. In the back of my mind I thought I could hear 'danger, danger'. Needless to say I started applying this color which at first was a clear liquid so I didn't think much of getting a little (and I use that term very loosely) on her face. That was until it started turning very black. She wanted to know if there was any on her face. Really? Not wanting to lie, I said there was a little here and there. Well working in the yard, her head and face began to get real hot real fast so she rushes to the bathroom. I don't understand why she was very upset that half her face matched her hair. So I said well at least your hair looks good. Then I suggested scrubbing it off with lemon juice and salt. Kids do not believe everything you see on TV. Well let's say she survived, she still has all her skin and well her hair turned out great :}

Like I said, lots of firsts. The one I remember most though was having coffee with a friend and catching up. I sometimes think that being single is just tough in a world of couples. I think no one else unless you are in the same position can quite understand and granted I want to marry the man God has for me but sometimes the wait is so long and so frustrating. Well I was having coffee (not a first time event to clarify) my friend started sharing about her desire to have kids and how hard it is sometimes to be around other young couples because they have kids and they don't seem to share her interests etc. Well as we continued talking and I suddenly had a fresh perspective for the first time in a long time. Doesn't matter at what stage in life we are at, we will have things to deal with, cries of our hearts, longings waiting to be filled, prayers that we want answers for but the secret is what Paul found, in all situations to be content. Our hearts at times want to dwell on things that we don't have but being content with where God has us at the moment, that's the key, knowing that He is in control, He's never late, His ways are perfect and His faithfulness endures forever. Now that is the type of revelation that when you first get it...hang on to it!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Preventative Medicine

A couple weeks ago, I went in for a routine (way over due) cleaning. While there I had some x-rays done. Normally there is not a problem but this time my dentist himself comes in and sits down and began talking in his serious voice. Apparently the x-rays revealed the forming of 2 cavities (too much coffee?). Anyways he believes in preventative medicine and so scheduled 2 more visits to get them taken care off early before they become a problem.

I had my first follow up visit earlier this week and aside from the fact that I nearly starved to death since I couldn't eat until the numbness wore off, (try 3 o'clock in the afternoon!!!), it turned out to be okay. Although I vow to never go to get a cavity filled on an empty stomach again. However in the last couple days I've had aches creeping back in so I am anxious to go back and get the other one taken care off so that hopefully I will be pain free.

In thinking it over I realized that my dentist was onto something much bigger. He saw a problem developing and immediately wanted to get it taken care off. He didn't suggest we wait for a few months to see if it gets better first.

I thought about that and how much it said about our spiritual lives. I mean let's face it, as long as we live on this earth we will have trials, tribulations and temptations. The enemy constantly throws things at us to test our resilience. But do we practice 'preventative medicine'? When we see an area of concern in our walk with Christ, do we address the problem now or do we wait till it festers? See there are things in our lives that can creep in. Perhaps it's being so busy that you aren't spending enough time in His Word or His presence, then before you know it you begin to compromise and make excuses. The truth is if we can recognize when we are slipping up and address the problem before it is out of control we will probably spend more of our lives pleasing God and changing lives than wasting it on regrets and what ifs.

So practicing preventative medicine in our Christian walks, definitely a good idea...just saying :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jars of Clay

I'm sure that you have heard of Susan Boyle. The country bumpkin turned superstar after being on Britain's Got Talent. Well every single time I see her story I cry. (I am sorry to say that I have seen it many times and I still cry)' There is something that causes us all to be excited when the underdog rises up. It says that life is about second chances. It says that everyone has something to offer no matter what they look like or sound like or where they are from. It is truly inspiring.

On Wednesday I get the opportunity to speak to the teenagers and I plan on showing them the Susan Boyle video and talking about how the inside matters. The Word talks about us being mere jars of clay but the treasure on the inside of us is so incredible it makes us stop in our tracks. I mean I get overwhelmed with the fact that the Creator of the Universe sees it fit to reside in my heart. Me. Dust. Nothing much. Yet here I am with the answer that the world is searching for, right inside of me.

I'd say that was something pretty special. But how am I handling this awesome treasure? This gift of salvation that God has given to me to be shared with others. Some days seem better than others. Some days I leap out of bed ready to tell everyone I meet about Jesus but then I let the troubles of the day seep in and sometimes I get so caught up in my own life situation that I miss the amazing opportunities that come my way.

I have come to the conclusion all over again that I can't be so concerned about the outward things when God looks at the heart. Sometimes I just get so busy with life that I forget to live. I was made to worship. As long as I am here I am compelled to share the treasure inside me with others. Susan Boyle spent her whole life in a shell, until she decided to lay it all down and it was her moment. I want to experience that more. To wake up each day and lay it all down before God and let Him have His moment in and through me. Don't you? How awesome that would be. Here's the link to see Susan's first performance. My friend has already threatened to hurt me if I cry again on Wednesday night when I show it to the teens. Hey, I can't help it. I see myself and every person who has ever dreamed of doing something greater in her.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Basket of Death

Let's be honest for a minute, we all have some place where we put things that we are quite certain that we cannot live without and vow to ourselves that surely we will put it where it needs to go because it has done nothing to deserve just simply being thrown away, gotten rid off, abandoned in a land fill somewhere...Well, I have such a place. My place has steadily been growing over the last couple years (that's how long I have made promises to myself to sort through and put everything in its' place). It is a black, plastic basket that most average people would use for laundry (I certainly never claimed to be average). I began referring to it as the basket of death, because it seemed like that's where things in my room went to die, never to be seen or heard off again. Sad!:(

Well I made a vow to conquer this basket (around the beginning of March) and I finally had enough of the procrastination. Tonight was the night. So just for fun I decided to write down the things in my basket. Now I want you to brace yourself as you quickly skim this list and bear in mind that this basket was 16"x20"x12". Not crazy big at all but here is what I found buried in there. (Bear in mind that some of these items are in lump sums, you may want to not read this to small children or fearful adults).

plastic storage unit with compartments
clear zipper pouch from a suitcase
giant binder to organize recipes (brilliant idea)
CBD catalogue
maurice's catalogue
blue make up bag
some kind of PC drive
flat iron storage bag
recipes for binder
envelopes from friends and family to write down addresses
cracker barrel road map
plastic container #2
plastic container #3 with sewing supplies
gel eye mask (I could definitely use this)
copy of 2009 Christmas letter
used empty zip lock bag
basket bag
greeting cards to and from people
map of Olean (because it is so big)
I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr
Various CDs, DVDs and cases
Betty and Veronica comic book
file of things to file
more recipes
things to shred
plastic bag
computer connections Catalogue for Sight and Sound
copy of Christmas letter 2007
Quote from Henry David Thoreau
2010 pocket calendar
pictures (who are these people?)
white marker
gospel tracks
victory Bible reading plan
teaching on cassette on purity
white house brochure
page with daily devotionals from Word for today
deposit slips for Mickey Parks Benefit Fund
Recipe cards (blank)
floppy discs
never filled prescription
bag from drugstore
plastic air pump for exercise ball
magnetic note pad
FSB wall calendar featuring one of my photographs
receipts, receipts, receipts
'The Shack' on CD
car freshener
sticky paper to protect phone
Heritage Aflame address list
glue sticks for hot glue gun (so that's where they were)
4 years worth of rent receipts
Heritage Aflame annual statement
FSB folder
Victoria Secret gift bag (pretty)
FSB annual report for 2008
more recipes
binder with file paper
lots of things to shred
picture CDs
long white feathers
hanging file (too short for new filing cabinet-which I have had for about 5 years)
liberty university curriculum
stationary holder
ripped out pics of wedding dresses and rings (wishful thinking and what magazine did I destroy?)
paycheck stub
dean's list certificate (congratulations to me)
copies of various dramas
verizon starter disc
copy of Bill Cosby flyer from Chautauqua Inst (boy was he funny!)
counter checks
string cheese wrapper (I don't think I've bought that brand in a while)
foot rolly massage thingy
pieces of quilt I started oh 50 years ago
scrap paper

Not kidding! Lol!

But here is the really sad part. Now that I have gone through the basket of death, you would think that I'd be feeling pretty good right? wrong! you are so wrong! Because you see friends everything that was in the basket is now presently living on my bedroom floor in various frightening partially sorted piles. To make matters worse I already re-filled basket with travel bags and such. Now what??? Does anyone have a maid I could borrow or a fire pit? :)

Monday, April 26, 2010


Yesterday, I had the honor of doing a spoken word at church. The poem was written by Amena Brown and I heard it many years ago at a One Day conference. It was one of those things that stuck with me though. It was so powerful and refreshing and sums up exactly how I feel about our great and awesome God. I have written a lot of poems in my life and even ones similar to this, but Amena's version is certainly one of my favorite expressions of all times.

When I first thought of doing it, I thought golly that's a lot to memorize when it's written by someone else. But as I began to meditate on it, I knew these words were the very expression of my own heart and I have cried out to God on so many occasions using many of them. My favorite part is the offering of all that I am for God to "O God search me, know me, see me, examine me, test me, watch me, investigate me, question me, be pleased with me, have me, change me, sustain me, decrease me, decrease me, decrease me..." I think what if that were truly the cry of all God's people? Less of me and more of Him. How much more love, kindness, forgiveness and grace would fill our churches and flood our streets and overflow into our cities? If only we could strive for that every day.

Lots of people wanted a copy of it so I am posting the words here. I hope they inspire you as much as they have and continue to inspire me.

You by Amena Brown

You find me, when I’m hiding behind all my disguises You see me
It takes you to keep me breathing, You are heart, passion, vision
You send me and bring me close, close, close, so close until when you look at me You see You
You are heavenly, my present and future destiny
You are Father, Creator, Sustainer, Life Changer, Pride Breaker
You are the same yesterday, now and forever.
You are pleasure, worth, reason, present in every season
You are worship, devotion, You are the reason for all my commotion
You are the One that I pray to
You can tell that I’m nothing without You
So awesome that I can even pray to You, about You, to know You, to sense You
To believe you more, to love You more, to obey You more, to give You more of my heart
O God search me, know me, see me, examine me, test me, watch me, investigate me, question me, be pleased with me, have me, change me, sustain me, decrease me, decrease me, decrease me
Until there is no me left only You, only You,
Only You are light, are true, are You, our hope, our joy, our strength, our escape, rescue, safe
You are peace, You are belief You are advance and retreat
Of what, to what, to whom can I compare You, you are my all things new
You are my place of refuge, my fortress, my rest, my creativity in the strength of Your words to me
You are my ability to see, hear, feel, move, live, breathe, be
You are life and death all at the same time
You are friend, believer, Savior, Redeemer
You are the truth
You transcend old age and youth
You are timeless, priceless, lightness in darkness, greatness, goodness, sinless
And in a mess like my life, You see righteousness
In fact You leave me speechless
You alone are God.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Through the fog...

There are some days when I just wonder "Why me?" You may never have those but I sure do and as I get older they seem to get progressively worse. I am starting to notice the signs though and am beginning to think something is wrong if I don't experience at least a couple of these minor melt-down days every month.

Let me warn you reader that this is down right gut-level, soul baring honesty here. I was having one of these days recently. Started off when I went to bed way too late the night before after working on the PC for hours, my brain was drained (yes, I know it rhymes) :) Not getting a good night's sleep does not make for a sunshiny morning. Things only got better from there. Getting around took a little longer so I skipped my mini make-up routine and headed to church sans make up. Well I got there and talked to a friend who mentioned that I looked absolutely awful and what was I thinking? OK so maybe that's what I heard, I think what she said was "you look tired, is everything OK?" It's all in the interpretation people. That is the last time I forgo foundation when I'm heading out to face the world on 4 hours of sleep.

After church I had a family gathering of sorts to attend and all the happiness there proved to highlight the lack of happiness in certain areas of my own life, you know, husbands, kids etc. This proved to be extremely depressing. Oh and by the way I can't forget that there are certain times of the month when women get emotional for no apparent reason. This was definitely right up there. What does the Word say after all? Rejoice with those who rejoice?" Easier said than done on certain days.

After that I began to feel better over coffee but then got into a disagreement that stemmed from nothing really with my friend. Yep. Hungry, tired, slightly peeved and depressed I headed home to realize that I was just so exhausted from all these emotions and wondering when God was going to intervene that I barely had the energy to eat. That in itself speaks volumes.

Then the lyrics from the song "City on our knees" pops into my head "Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from Cathedrals to third world missions, love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave" and I realized on our very worst days, for those who love Christ, there is hope. I felt like I was in a fog, trapped and alone but God never leaves us or forsakes us, so that killed the alone theory. I woke up this morning grabbing a hold of the right perspectives. Truth about who I am in Christ and it was like love crashing down around me like a wave.

I do not doubt that I will have those moments again and that others feel that way as well but what we decide to do in the midst of our circumstances is so much more important than the circumstance itself. We have a choice to make. Life or death. I want as much of 'life' as possible which means I will have to choose to handle days like that one differently.

Friday, April 9, 2010


So last weekend I went to Austin, TX. I had a great time just checking out the place. It was surprising. I never envisioned that much green in Texas.

Highlights? Let's see, got to meet my friend's family including her nieces and nephews who were great kids. Visited the Austin Botanical Gardens where I was captivated by the Rose Garden. So many gorgeous roses in one area. Toured downtown Austin a bit which is surprisingly easy to get around, loved that they had real parking (aside from garages), like on the street parking with meters, you hardly ever see that in big cities.

Checked out the University of Texas which was like a city in itself. Home to 50,000 students. Incredible! Visited world the world famous Congress Ave Bat Bridge where we witnessed the launch of 1.5 million Mexican Bats. Creepy! Went to Zilker Park and tried to visit a sculpture park but it was too close to closing time :(

Climbed Mt Bonnel and experienced one of the most incredible views of my life. Toured the State Capitol and got a picture with a real Texas Ranger (for the eyes of the Ranger are upon us...) no not Chuck Norris :( Saw a great Easter musical at Gateway Community Church. Took the girls to the dollar theater and saw Dear John. OK, but a bit disappointing in the end. Finally went to a softball game and near froze in the cooling evening breeze.

But undoubtedly one of the greatest things about Austin was the food. Real Mexican (although Don Lucho's can give them a run for their pesos). Texas BBQ where I tried brisket for the first time. MmmMmm good stuff! Homemade Pierogies and what seems like gallons of sweet tea was added to the list. But my favorite was Korean, eaten in a little cafeteria off the side of an Oriental Market. Yumm!

In a nutshell that was my Austin trip. Gosh it's so much fun visiting new places and meeting new faces, but where does the time go? It's over before you know it. Hopefully I will be going somewhere else really soon. I have been bit by the travel bug yet again!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Believe it or not!

So have you ever prayed for something and then were surprised when you got it? Happens to me all the time I'm afraid. I pray for a situation to work out and then when it does I'm blown away. I could pray for someone to be healed and then it's almost a surprise when they are. I pray for God's will to be done and then barely recognize when it happens. Maybe it's just me!

The truth is I pray completely believing God at the moment and then don't always acknowledge or recognize His hand. For the last couple months I had to work at the drive through location of our bank and I have to admit I was kind of dreading it. So I prayed for a better attitude and that my time there would be productive etc. Well lo and behold I have one more week left in this rotation and I am now on the opposite side of the spectrum. I am actually totally sad to leave. I absolutely loved working there. I think I really appreciated not working between 2 branches every day and that might have played a significant role.

But the feeling of loss completely caught me off guard even though that's what I prayed for!!! God somewhere along the way changed my heart from it being something that I had to do to something that I not only wanted to do but enjoyed as well. So awesome how He does that. Makes the verse that says how He sings all around us while we are unaware come to life.

Monday, March 22, 2010


So I'm trying to understand the age old mystery of the differences between men and women(if anyone thinks they have an answer please share). You see being a single Christian woman is no easy task and men do not make it any easier. I wish they came with a manual. Let me fill you in.

Last summer I met this cute young man, full of ambition and a zest for life but not a zest for Jesus so it was see you later. If you think I asked the question "why Lord?" a hundred times you'd be wrong-it was definitely closer to two hundred. :)

Well didn't see or hear from this guy after we parted ways until a few weeks ago when one of my friends (who also knows him), and myself were out for a walk. Getting healthy and all that. So randomly we run into this old acquaintance who is super excited to see us and being his cute self certainly wasn't disappointing us in any way. We end up having coffee and catching up and he even made plans to take in a play.

Sounds good? Here's the conversation taking place in my head - Sure why not? He's such a great conversationalist. Who knows where he's at now? But he does still have the most amazing blue eyes ever. Was his relationship with the Lord any deeper? He must work out. Was he wearing a wedding band? His 2 puppies are pretty cute. Is it going to be awkward hanging out with him again? If only...

I should have saved myself the pain. Sheesh! Anyways for 3 weeks we are planning to go to this play with this guy (who invited us by the way), and even though we haven't heard from him we know he's pretty busy so we are fairly understanding. Now here my friends is the great divide that separates female-kind from man-kind. when we didn't here from him, my friend sent him a text the night before the play. He responded only that he was sorry he couldn't make it because he was doing some training for his job!!!!!!!!!Really???????? What just happened?????Was he not the one who invited us???????

I know there is a moral in this somewhere... but I am still stunned by the fact that he didn't even think to mention that he couldn't make it and thought it was no big deal. Common courtesy? Common sense? I know that all guys are not like that and I sure hope that God-fearing men aren't but all I can say for now is that when I do meet Mr. Right, he better know how to pick up the phone! :)


At some point in life I think some of us discover who we really are. Some realize who they are but decide they want to be someone different and there are those who go through life and will never find their identity. How long this discovery takes depends on the individual.

I see little kids imitate their parents (good and bad) and begin developing opinions and even prejudices that will stay with them throughout their lives. I know a lot of people who have had to break free from the way they thought as they became adults realizing that so much of their thinking they owed to their parents. At some point we have to take responsibility for our own actions.

I work with teens and it is the imitation revolution. One cool kid wears a funky outfit or does her hair a certain way and all of a sudden kids everywhere are doing it. The teen years are a series of fads and followers. Making the right decisions about life doesn't always come easy.

As adults we conform to our surroundings, school, workplace, social settings, whether by choice or not we succumb to the pressures of society and lose bits and pieces of who we truly are all along the journey.

By the time we are mature, we would have spent our lives living for others, by others, through others and because of others. Some people facing retirement become depressed at the thought of losing their identity.

I see it in my own life here and there. Getting so busy with living life that I sometimes forget about being who God made me to be. I try to find my identity in the work I do or my family or my friends or my church but all those things are just part. Listen to the scripture, "...it is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for", and realize how true that is. He is my creator after all, who better to help me discover who I really am, but Him. Labels removed.

I am not just a daughter, or banker, or drama queen, I am His. I like that.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Step 2- Stumbling Back into the World of Exercise

In continuing with the steps to a healthier life, I have come to the conclusion that turning 30 was a definite turning point...or a cruel joke. Either way something strange happened to my metabolism. People used to tell me that would happen when I crossed over the great chasm separating one's 30s and 20s and I laughed at them thinking what did these 'old' people know anyway? Well the joke is definitely on me. Today I was certainly I wishing that I hadn't taken my calorie burning, energy renewing, crazy metabolism days of my twenties for granted.

Snacking right has been a challenge but certainly worth it. So step 2 was to begin to get more physically in shape. For some strange reason with the slowing of the metabolism and the lack of exercise I have developed all sorts of...um...let's just say extra curves :)In an effort to tone up I decided to start walking. The last 4 days I have actually been able to get out and walk because we have had outstanding weather. I was doing ok covering mostly flat terrain. Until today...

I brought my sneakers to work and headed out after I ate my lunch to soak up some of the glorious sunshine and 60 degree weather. I decided to double what I walked yesterday (when I was in 4 inch heels) so I was feeling pretty good with plans to make a loop of 2 blocks instead of 1. I know, ambitious, that's just the kind of girl I am. Now, I am not a complainer but I want to know who put that hill in the middle of my loop? I mean halfway up the hill my thighs and calves were on fire and I thought if I don't make it, is my will in order?

Well with much pain I made it and I am still here. It was an accomplishment. The Word of God says "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." I have great respect for those who can push their bodies to become great at their game. I realize as much as we need exercise for the body we need spiritual exercise too. Lots of it to stay in shape for all that we face in our world today. Keep you posted.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Step 1 - Snack Right

So the journey begins with the realization that our working environment is really a breeding ground for unhealthy snacking. I mean who can't resist munching on whatever is at hand when you hit that mid-morning lull closely followed by the afternoon drag? I found myself digging into potato chips, candy, chocolate, pretzels, crackers, soda...well you get the picture. Not only was this practice unhealthy for my body but unhealthy for my wallet. Hungry...run next door and grab a candy bar...thirsty ...get a pop from the vending machine...invest globs of money in things that give bursts of energy and then leave you feeling icky. I decided that change must happen so I made a list of snack items based on all the relevant good food reports of the day and headed to Wally World.

Armed with snacks to last between 2 to 3 weeks I wondered how I would survive on these items. No cookies? no potato chips? What is this? Prison? OK the temptation to renege on this goal was very tempting. However, let's see I have been snacking for about a week on these new snacks and I was certain that I would be craving chocolate chips and beautiful frosted donuts...where was I again? Oh yeah, but nope I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was having more energy and less of the afternoon blahs and get this, I went to Timmy H's and got soup, coffee and a donut and I had no desire to eat the donut! I know! I guess it's true, you put enough good stuff in and that's what you start craving. Just like the Word. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

So here is the deal, if you need to take a step to healthier snacking, a little purposeful shopping and planning is what you need. Here is my list, maybe it will inspire you...just a little. In a week where I would normally have eaten at least 6 cookies, 3 candy bars, a muffin, a donut, maybe a bag of chips or two, I had a chocolate macaroon and I didn't even miss the other stuff.


-Tub of favorite yogurt (more cost effective and if you have a fridge at work it's very convenient)
-Blueberries or other berries packaged in snack portions to enjoy by themselves or with your yogurt or cottage cheese. Excellent source of antioxidants!
-String cheese, convenient and tasty
-Applesauce, bring in a jar or single serving portions work great as well.
-Baby carrots, cucumbers or celery- get your veggies on!
-Replace your soda intake with water, juice or the great tasting V8 Fusion.
-Trail Mix-packaged in serving sizes. Get a couple different kinds and alternate. Great source of energy

Eating healthier may take a little more work but it is definitely worth it. If you have some great snacking secrets for work or home or when you are on the go, please share it. Snack Happy! :)

Healthy is a marathon not a sprint

So, earlier this year I came up with a list of 21 Things to do in 2010. I'll have to do a recap and a success update of that in a blog really soon. Well one of the goals on the list was to get healthy. Some of you may not know but I've had a few health issues for about a year now and I continue to trust God for my healing but I know it is necessary for us to do our part. We are surrounded by enticements to eat anything and everything, the temptation to stay on the couch and watch TV is strong especially during the winter (which lasts forever around here) and if you are not a snow lover (which I'm not-give me a beach any day) opportunities to get active are hard to come by in our busy lives.

Truth is every great journey begins with a single step. I can talk the talk but if I am not willing to put in the work to get where I need to be I'll be going nowhere fast. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit after all and I have to be willing to honor that. Sheesh! it's not like I'm getting any younger. I remember being in my twenties and being able to eat anything and not work out and not put on a pound. That all changed when the #30 train pulled into the station. Now I realize that if I want to be healthy and fit it's on me.

But the leap from the couch to the gym isn't always easy. Then again no good thing ever comes without hard work. Right? Right? It takes more effort, more time and a bigger investment but the results are unparalleled.

So the journey begins and I am sure it will not be without its moments. And like any journey I think this should be done in steps. First challenge...Snack Right! Let's see how it goes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Experimental Surgery

When your thoughts start out with "I wonder if I would need a doctor to do this or if I could do it myself?" you should know that whatever you are thinking of doing is probably not a smart idea. I know, now you are curious and have to hear the whole story so here goes.

See I had this little mole on my upper left cheek. It was about the size of a pin head. well for some reason it started to aggravate me so I kept picking at it. Mistake #1. Pretty soon the little pin head was sore and now broken and sticking straight out about 1/4 inch but of course still attached to my face. I was spending the weekend at a friend's house and preparing to play the role of Esther in my church's drama the next day. As I was staring at my face around midnight in the bathroom mirror I thought I can't play one of the most beautiful queens with this thing on my face and that's when I had that thought I mentioned earlier. Mistake #2.

I figured I could do this as I recalled how we had gotten rid of a mole on my mom's arm a few years ago. So why not? The truth is I forgot that my mom's mole swelled up like a ripe cherry and caused her serious agony for 2 or 3 days before it finally gave up the fight but somehow I managed to block that out of my mind. (Sheesh! I wonder why?). Mistake #3. So needless to say I walked into the living room and said to my friend, "so...do you think that we could get rid of this mole with some thread?". Mistake #4. Of course one would hope that in the event that one suggests something ridiculous and potentially life threatening, that one's friend would absolutely take a stand against it and refuse to be a part of it. Unfortunately in my situation, said friend replied "OK, let's do it" and headed to get her sewing kit. Mistake #5.Armed with thread we headed back to the bathroom and I braced myself as she tied the thread into a loose knot and got it around the little offender. As she began to pull the knot taut she said, "now this may hurt, are you ready?". Mistake #6.

Ever try to cut off a part of yourself using some thread? Not pretty or pleasant. She continued to pull the thread and it began to slice into my flesh. Ouch! I gripped the sides of...well I don't exactly know what I was gripping because I was experiencing a deep concentrated level of pain at the time. When she pulled it as far as she could go and she let go thinking the little bugger would pop off. Nope! It was still hanging on along with a now very long piece of thread which was attached to my face. I opened my eyes which had been shut and was about to ask if she got it when I noticed a stark look of horror on her face as she stared at the pieces of thread now embedded in my face. Mistake #7.

I groaned and felt panic setting in as I looked in the mirror. "Well we could trim the thread really close and maybe no one will notice," she said as she pulled out a pair of scissors and began the sanitizing process. Mistake #8. I looked at the very scary looking pair of scissors now being drenched in iodine, hot water and rubbing alcohol and I suddenly felt a little nauseated. Finally satisfied that the scissors were sterilized she turned to me and told me not to move. Who was moving? I was grounded like Punxsutawney Phil. Eyes closed I heard the snip snip of the scissors. When they stopped I opened one eye and asked what it looked like. She said I can't get the thread off. Mistake #9. I looked in the mirror and saw that she had clipped off the little mole and now there was a little knot of thread attached to my face. Well the good news was I think the knot cut of the circulation because I didn't even know when she cut off the mole. I took a deep breath and said to her very seriously, "Get the tweezers." Another sanitizing ritual and then with her holding the tweezers and me pulling the skin on my cheek down, 'Operation Thread Removal' commenced. Mistake #10.

Finally with the mole gone and the thread gone, we trimmed down a band aid, got the neosporin out and I grabbed some BBQ chips to ease the pain and anxiety as I nursed my booboo! The good news is by the grace of God,(and only by the grace of God), the operation was successful (this time). However a word of advice, in the future if you are thinking about experimental surgery on yourself... DON'T!!! :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Road Trips, GPS and Life...

When you go on a road trip there are things that you discover are essential, things that you absolutely cannot go without, things that must be done, let me explain...See one of my friends and I decided to take last weekend off and head out of state, well out of country really, to Toronto, Canada (ok not that far out of the country :o).I love road trips but before we could go there were several things we needed to do to be ready.

First of all we needed to check the weather,well let's see north of Buffalo we figured on cold and snow. Based on the anticipated weather conditions we had to pack accordingly, you know boots, sweaters, gloves, scarves, jeans etc. Next we needed to book our hotel, we needed to know where we were going when we got there. And of course we needed to make sure we didn't starve or die of dehydration on the road so we stocked up on the snacks and water. Once we had fuel for the body and mind we needed fuel for Al (my car) to get us to where we were going.

So far so good. Leaving home knowing that an adventure waits always gives me an adrenaline rush. Once on the road we need to make sure that we always have close access to the 3 most important pit stops; Timmy H's, a bathroom and a Wally World. All 3 are essential for a woman's survival (listed in random order of course). Here is where the beauty of GPS comes into the mix. Definitely the greatest invention since the microwave, Gips (my GPS), confidently maps out the way. Turn by turn he will direct you, step by step he will get you to where you are heading. Even when we get busy gabbing, he doesn't miss a beat, just redirects us so we get back on track. Gotta love Gips! The journey is half the fun. Good music, great conversation, games and snacks of course. Always need to keep up the energy no matter what.

Arriving at our destination we spent the weekend doing all sorts of fun things. We visited Chinatown and Koreatown and had lunch at a little Korean hole in the wall restaurant, but the food was excellent. We enjoyed driving around exploring and thanks to Gips, didn't get too lost. Hung out at the hotel reading magazines, watching TV and chilling poolside. We visited the West Indian section and ate some Trinidadian doubles and aloo pies! Yumm! We got to tour Casa Loma which was a pretty cool castle set on a hill overlooking Toronto. Good times.

Oh the trip was not without its moments of frustration though, like getting sick and needing to make emergency stops for 'supplies' at Walmart, slipping in the hotel tub and twisting my ankle, cranking the thermostat to 85 to make the room livable. Not to mention the desperation of seeking out a bathroom in downtown Toronto where parking is virtually non existent, driving for 45 minutes to find an Arby's only to discover it was not there anymore and leaving Toronto only to drive into a blizzard once we hit New York State. All the things that make road trips the most memorable.

Needless to say, we had a blast. Looking back I could see how much going on a road trip reminds me of this journey as a Christian. We need to be ready for what is ahead, to dress for it by putting on the full armor of God. Food for the road reminds me of how we need to live by the Word of God. Not once in a while but all the time, we need to be feeding on the Word because it gives us life and the strength to continue on. The GPS reminds me of the Holy Spirit, leading us and guiding us step by step through this life even when we get busy and don't listen and get off the path, He is always working to get us back on track. Amazing! Knowing where you are headed? Very important! And all those little frustrations that happen along the way are like unexpected trials and tribulations that we have to deal with. It helps to know God, His Word and a lot of times having godly friends who help you through them is a must. We come through those times wiser and stronger. Then we have great moments like seeing the Castle and taking in the most breathtaking view of the city, when we experience joy, peace and fulfillment.

Life is an adventure, an amazing journey with God, friends and faith. Live it out loud! Go on a road trip. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day - To love or to hate? That is the question

I never thought that I would actually consider hating Valentine's Day. When I was a little younger, I was probably the number one fan. I loved matchmaking and even collected stories of how people met and fell in love.

I mean who wouldn't be encouraged to love the day when the great couples of our time and imagination have gone before us.I am a romantic at heart and my favorite fairy tale has always been Cinderalla. Oh when the Prince comes and rescues her from a life of servitude and drudgery and accepts her for who she is, not what she has, well that would make any girl a believer in dreams coming true and her Prince rescuing her some day.

Then there are great ancient accounts of a love like Boaz and Ruth, a story of redemption, or of Isaac and Rebekah, a story of destiny or a story of restoration like David and Bathsheba. How could I not be inspired by the hand of God knitting lives together as part of His plan?

Of course there are those that inspire me from this time like Will Smith and his wife Jada who despite the glam of Hollywood have stayed together. But even closer to my heart are the people that touch my life every day like my friends the O's, who are in their 70s, married for almost 50 years and are still in love and my mom who even though my dad has been gone for 17 years now, still blushes when you mention his name.

Like I said, I never considered hating Valentine's Day, the day to celebrate love... until recently when I started to resent all that inspiration because all it did was remind me that I didn't have it. I didn't have that great love that left me breathless or caused young girls to see me and dream about the day they would experience it. I began to question whether I would ever have it. I watched all my friends get married and felt more and more alone and even worse, forgotten by God. On Valentine's Day in more recent years, those feelings tended to fester. I was and am on occasion tempted to hate the day and all that it stands for because I am alone and the only person that gives me a Valentine is my mom. Lol! Someone loves me! Being bitter and hating the day would definitely be the easier thing to do but "bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." What good is bitterness to me or my health? Who needs it?

Instead I choose to say this "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." and "taste and see that the Lord is good." The truth is I would rather be single than stuck in a miserable relationship or worse a miserable marriage like so many people I know. I want my Prince you know? That one person in whom I could see a reflection of God's amazing love for me.

So I guess for one more year at least I can say Happy Valentine's Day! and mean it. :) Much love to you reader.

Monday, February 1, 2010

To Save a Life

Matthew West wrote a song and the lyrics go like this;
"I don't wanna go through the motions,
I don't wanna go one more day,
without Your all consuming,
passion inside of me;
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
what if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I think those words are so powerful. The last couple weeks we took some of the teens to see the movie To Save a Life. Great movie, totally check it out if you can. Now playing in Wellsville, NY. It was a movie that made me think. In it this young man kills himself because he felt he had no hope. If someone had paid attention to him, would it have made a difference? Well his life changes the life of the movie's main character who stops thinking about only himself and decides to make a difference.
It made me think about how I treat the people around me. Is there a life that I could be making a difference in but I'm so caught up in my own little world that I fail to see it? I want to see people from God's perspective. You know Jesus looked at the people and had great compassion on them. I am ashamed to say, I don't always have that kind of compassion. Actually I can get irritated and irrational really quickly. (You know you are in that boat too.) But if I saw people through the all consuming passion of Christ, would it change my life? Would it change someone else' life? I don't know for sure but I think it would. I get tired of the same old routine all the time, don't you? At the end of my life I don't want to wonder whether I gave it my all or not. We can go through this life and have all the success, money, fame, talent etc. but if we don't pour into people what good is any of it? Live life...make a difference.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A few of my favorite things?

It is interesting to me how a person's perspective can change based on their circumstances. Follow me for a minute and you'll see what I mean. For instance when American Idol first came out I thought it was just another silly reality show until I sat in on an episode with the rest of my family and just enjoyed the time we spent together. Since then AI has been a family tradition to watch together, we never miss it. Then last summer I met this cute guy who was into SciFi, something I never really cared for I must admit, but for some reason I found myself happily listening to the soundtrack of Battlestar Galactica...don't ask!
But here's the real kicker, I grew up on an island where cats are not the favorite creatures by a long shot. Already having a birthright of hating them I made the mistake of reading Stephen King's Pet Cemetery (pre-Christian days) and whatever dislike I had of felines was only deepened. For all you cat-lovers I must apologize but I couldn't stand to be around the critters. Then I met Baby. Yep. I first met Baby while visiting my best friend about a year ago (it's her cat, so I blame her!)I was deathly afraid of the cat as she lurked around making meowing sounds and staring at me. Then last summer she brushed up against me and I ventured to pet her. Interestingly she didn't feel slimy like I thought surely all creatures of the deep such as cats must feel. She was actually soft and fat and warm. Hmmm! Well these encounters with the cat progressed until last night when she decided that hopping up onto the couch with me was ok so she did. So I found myself in a place I never thought I would ever be, hanging out with a cat beside me and get this, not even minding it. Yikes!
So, of course there is a lesson here right? Something that God is trying to show me? Perhaps it wasn't American Idol, SciFi or Baby that were the real focuses here but maybe the fact that they were all things that people I care deeply about loved and eventually I grew to like (let's not get too carried away with the love bit just yet...there is still a cat involved) :o) For what it's worth, I think I better understand why God would care about the things that we care about, why He would be interested in our lives and want to be a part of all of it, our interests, our loves, our hobbies, our ups and our downs, our triumphs and our failures...simply because He loves us. I could definitely live with that.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Party in the USA

See the trouble with going to an all girls' High School (although the greatest school ever), is that (brace yourself), there are only girls there. Now hear me out, I was not exposed to the mysterious ways of teenage boys much growing up. Aside from brothers, cousins, neighborhood friends, the boy scouts, my hiking club and the occasional stalking of the cute guys from the all boys' school next door, can't say I have had tons of interaction with this sect and well whereas most people wouldn't be shocked by some of the antics of these up and coming men I found myself completely in discovery mode as I drove 4 teen boys home from youth group a couple nights ago.
I have to admit I was a little nervous, 4 very boisterous young men were first of all in my precious Al (please, you know you name your cars too or at least plan on doing it now cause it's totally the right thing to do). So we are driving along and these guys are talking video games, war games in the back yard, destroying skateboards, other kids getting punched etc. Okay so the violence in this conversation was making me a little uncomfortable. I decided to question them a little to make sure they weren't packing heat (Hey, I watch cop shows, I know the lingo). So I thought "Ok boys will be boys, they are rough and tough men folk." Right?
Then suddenly switching from war games and blowing things up one of the boys started talking about a song he had downloaded and was so excited about. Now I'm a little apprehensive as to what these kids listen to these days but as he turned on his IPod, the strains of the popular Miley Cyrus song "Party in the USA" began to play and lo and behold these 4 macho, gangsta' wannabe sort of guys suddenly have cell phone lights in hand, waving their hands and singing to this song! All of them! Together! I couldn't believe it! This is what teenage boys do? Play war games and sing the latest pop songs? Lol! Well I was definitely no longer nervous because I was now laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath.
During the first 12 minutes of that ride I was convinced that I was never going to have kids...ever! but then in those last few moments I was reminded of the truth that men often look and judge by outward appearances but God looks at the heart. These kids may be rough around the edges but they love youth group and hearing about God and no doubt God will continue to work in them. I think the Lord was reminding me that it's a good idea to look beyond the surface, people have more than one layer. They may just surprise you! Oh and just for the record I think I might still want kids...some day. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tick Tock

I was sitting in a coffee shop catching up with a friend from High School last night. It was cold out but the atmosphere in the shop was warm and we were having so much fun. She brought her husband and two lovely boys with her whom I had never met, I brought one of my best friends and we got some great food and coffee and were all loving life. Now here's the thing, her husband acts like he has known me all my life and all that really means is that the sarcastic, cynical and deeply scathing remarks flow freely from him. Haha! Naturally as a single woman, all conversations with friends, family and random strangers lead to one place...men!
So my friend-in-law wasted no time in grilling me about my prospects, he had some advice for me (since being single naturally meant I needed help). He suggested that perhaps I should pick up a sport, (I could drop it once I have secured a man), maybe do some traveling, (try to stay away from farming communities or something like that), take a cruise (oh wait he said too much of the 'senior' population utilize cruises so scratch that), and how I needed to get out of the small town, make a move etc. etc. Then after feeling slightly slammed he said in all seriousness that God makes a way and His timing is perfect, He'll bring the right guy etc. etc. Sounds good right? Uplifting? Encouraging? You would think so until he said "but Miranda" and wagging his finger like a metronome, he continued "Tick...tock!" Wow!!! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Got chocolate?

Now I'm not sure why chocolate has become a universal symbol of wonderful but it's one of the few food groups (yes I said food groups), that brings such joy and comfort to a person's very soul. I mean if I'm happy, I can use it to celebrate, if I'm sad, it makes me feel glad, if I'm worried it helps ease my mind, if I feel miserable it brings me comfort, if I'm sick it makes me feel better and if I'm angry it takes away my frustrations. For this reason I am therefore thoroughly convinced that chocolate will be in heaven for all the good it does. So you can understand how a girl such as myself might feel slightly threatened when she sees her chocolate slowly disappearing before her very eyes. That is what happened last night, as I was working on the computer my brother whom I love dearly wandered in to visit me and proceeded to 'borrow' from my box of chocolates until low and behold there was one left and it had a bite in it. Well you know the average person would have been upset and just let him finish it off, but I sure never claimed to be average so I stuffed that half eaten piece of chocolate in my mouth as fast as I could for fear of him getting to it. Now I'd like to say there was a great spiritual lesson to be learned like perhaps 'guard your chocolate for it is the wellspring of life'...nope that's your heart...sheesh! I guess just guard your chocolate...period! Well maybe no great lesson, but my bro and I did have fun chilling for a bit so I suppose that chocolate lived up to its reputation...it is wonderful! :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Muscle Relaxers

Anyone ever used a muscle relaxer? They tend to do interesting things mainly making you relax so much so that you find yourself slipping into a sound restful sleep not too long after using it. The tensions you had suddenly slip away. I recently got a prescription for a muscle relaxer to help with some neck issues. The first question the doctor asked was whether I have been under a lot of stress, then he asked if I have had some injury. Interesting that the stress question came first. I mean why would I be stressed? With a full time job, school, recent and temporary health issues, church activities, family, friends, social activities and the looming prospect of my biological clock ticking away with no current prospects of slowing it down, I mean being stressed out is a ridiculous thought. Right? Right? Hmmm...Then I stop and hear these words "Be still and know that I am God" and these "Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." I have to sometimes force myself to do this, but when I do it has the similar effect of a muscle relaxer. My whole being tends to slow down and a peace fills me and suddenly my issues seem small when I realize Who is taking care of them. So all I can say is when those moments come that overwhelm, be still...try the ultimate Relaxer.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

So the truth is that trying to survive in our world as a single woman is hard enough but toss in some Christianity and you got yourself quite a challenge. My name is Miranda and welcome to my blog. Life happens and sometimes it's quite funny like falling out of bed when you realize you've overslept and you will be late for work. Sometimes it's downright entertaining like today when I put on a face mask and ripped out a chunk of my eyebrows with it when I peeled it off. Then again sometimes it can get a little bit more serious like wondering if God has gotten busy with world peace and forgotten about the fact that you feel like you are drowning and need a lifeline. I love God and want to live a life that pleases him but that is easier said that done most days :) So join me as I walk through the trials, struggles and joys of life when the only thing that works is a little chocolate and a lot of faith.


Miranda Tom