Hope for Your Monday

Hope for Your Monday

Hope

The Advent candle of Hope was lit yesterday and less than 24 hours later, your Monday has already done.You. In.

The sermon that so encouraged you yesterday cannot strengthen you now.  You cannot recall the distant strains of the praise choruses sung yesterday.  Human words fall short in light of what you faced today.

Monday’s sharp edges hit after a warm fuzzy Sunday and the anecdote is God’s Word.

  • Our hope is in God. See Psalm 39:7
  •  Hope makes us bold.  See 2 Corinthians 3:1  
  • Hope does not put us to shame. See Romans 5:5
  • Hope is an anchor for the soul, firm & secure.  See Hebrews 6:19
  • Hope dies for the godless who forget God.See Job 8:13
  • Hope is the promise of eternal life. See Titus 1:2

So, talk to your Heavenly Father.  Read His Word.  Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the Hope Jesus has already worked and is continuing in your life at this very present moment.  


A Thankful List

A Thankful List

Happy Thanksgiving! 

May you be filled with thanks for…

…Salvation

…Forgiveness

….Mercy

….Grace

….Love

….Faith

….Encouragement

….In dwelling Holy Spirit

….and the knowledge that the Lamb of God is presently working in your life!

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15: 57
Five Minute Friday | Dwell

Five Minute Friday | Dwell

  

On Fridays I join Kate Motaung’s link up and with other writers write for 5 minutes on the weekly prompt. This Friday’s word is…Dwell.

Daylight all is normal. It’s only when my head hits the pillow that it begins…angry hateful words spewed at me, calculated humiliation, all the pain, anxiety, what ifs running through my brain.  The past remains alive in my head and sleep is impossible. 

And in the daylight, I know that God is my protector. And in the daylight, I know that God has delivered me from this potentially soul crushing situation and I am safe. But in the night, the past is still present in my brain.

I call out to God. I know His mercy and grace. And in the wisdom of His Truth He leads me to His Word:

Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. Isaiah 43:18

I was dwelling in the past. Past events that  I couldn’t change. I turned events over in my mind, trying to figure out how I  could have prevented it from happening. 

God doesn’t want me to dwell in the past…mistakes, triumphs, happy or bad.  He desires for me to dwell in His truth. His daily mercy and grace. If I dwell in the past…I cannot forget and focus on today, the new things He has for me.

God wants me to dwell in Him.  And when I dwell in His goodness I experience His peace and presence even during difficult times, and I am able to do follow Him and do the things He has called me to do, and….I can sleep!

Five Minute Friday | Travel Weary

Five Minute Friday | Travel Weary

On Fridays I join Kate Motaung’s link up and with other writers write for 5 minutes on the weekly prompt. This Friday’s word is…Weary.

Brighted eye and busy tailed at the beginning of our journey!

Two weeks ago, my husband and I boarded our plane in Madrid headed back to the US!  We had a lovely time in Spain, seeing great works of art, strolling the cobblestone streets, and dining on tasty Spanish cuisine. We were so happy to be headed home…see our smiles?!

Trans-Atlantic flights can be a long haul, but we arrived safely in Philadelphia.  I always love hearing from the U. S. customs agent, “Welcome to the United States!”  We only had a two hour layover before our final flight to Nashville. 

I was giddy, really giddy as we stood in the security line, chatting up strangers, giddy from over 18 hours of being awake and traveling through umpteen time zones. While in line we neared the departures board.  We searched for our gate and saw the dreaded word…Cancelled.

Coincidentally, my husband’s voicemail alert beeped and he listened to the airline’s message that all flights had been cancelled to Nashville and they had rebooked us for the next morning to fly out of Philly to Chicago at 5:15 am.  What?!!

Suddenly, all the giddiness evaporated and I suddenly felt weary.  World traveling, almost 24 hours up weary.  We got through security, hustled our way to the nearest airline agent and thankfully got a booking to fly to Chicago later that evening with a hotel room secured and then on to Nashville the next day.

I was thankful, beyond thankful, we would not be stranded at Philly’s lovely airport…but oh, waiting nearly five hours to board the flight to Chicago was a challenge for me! I knew if I fell asleep, I would not be able to walk myself on to the plane. I was weary beyond giddiness, beyond sleep, and near the edge of cogent thought!

Keeping it real!

I definitely know my weariness two weeks ago was a first world problem.  But still, I leaned on God to get me through the limits of physical exhaustion and stay awake, through the four hour layover and then the two hour flight to Chicago. God calls us to Himself when we are weary because He will give us rest. Rest in our souls. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Most of my weary moments do not arise from world travel but from my worrisome habit of turning and churning “what ifs”over in my brain into the wee hours of the morning when I should be resting. My Father is gracious.  He knows that about me. He calls me to take up His burden because it’s light…unlike my heavy wearisome burdens. 

Lay your weariness and burdens at the Father’s feet. Take up His burden and find rest in Him. Rest in your soul that no one else can give you. And don’t pick your burden up again!  

Five Minute Friday | History of Dance

Five Minute Friday | History of Dance

On Fridays I join Kate Motaung’s link up and with other writers write for 5 minutes on the weekly prompt. This Friday’s word is…Dance.

Always a good day to go to an art museum and see a Degas painting of dancers!

Dance is a part of my life. Growing up I didn’t take ballet, but I danced in my pink ballerina tutu and black ballet shoes all around the house as my mom did the housework. 

After literally standing on my head and teaching myself cartwheels, my parents signed me up for gymnastics. Like any young gymnast in the late 70s, I dreamed of the Olympics and becoming the next Nadia!  I danced between tumbles in my floor routines and twirled on the balance beam.  

After realizing I wouldn’t make it to the Olympics (seriously no chance!) I made cheerleader and continued dancing to Pom Pom routines!  Besides dancing in the routine itself, choreographing the dance was just as much fun!

My college and graduate years were filled with mixers, perfect for letting some steam off after a hard week of classes. 

But once I entered the workforce, the dancing stopped. And when I would attend a wedding I would realize how much I missed it…dancing for dancing’s sake!  And I knew I needed much more of it in my life!  You know how the saying goes…dance like nobody’s watching you!

So, when an ’80s song comes on as we’re watching tv, I jump and groove, much to the dismay of the teens and the amusement of my husband. 

Mostly though, I dance to one one of my jams, while cleaning the house by myself! And while dancing I reconnect with the little ballerina, the high school cheerleader and burn off some stress!  Dancing reminds me to not take myself so seriously!

What about you?  Do you dance like nobody’s watching?  What are your favorite dance jams?

***** sorry for the crazy half done post before, Word Press doesn’t always “act” like it’s supposed to!!

How to Not Freak Out the First Semester of College

How to Not Freak Out the First Semester of College

Epictetus, you’ve said a mouthful!

Remember when I wrote about empty nest here back in August? Well, if you’re on a similar journey, it’s about this time in your student’s first college semester where their stress may teeter over into feelings of being overwhelmed. 

This may be the first time your freshman has experienced a difficult class, professor, 100 percent freedom and/or the real possibility of making their first bad grade. 

 If any of the above is true for your student, then it’s doubly true for you. You’ve been through college!  You’re a fountain of knowledge and wisdom! They may share the fun and mundane stuff but what about the nitty gritty?  

Your questions echo into the wasteland. Last year you had access to everything. And now…crickets.  Why won’t he call?  Is she fitting in? Why won’t he tell me his grades?  Is she making it to class?  What is going on?!? I want to make it better!!!!

Recently, I sat through a parents’ meeting on how to help your student cope through their first college semester. I actually think it was therapy for the adults, though. I looked around the room and thought to myself, I’m not the only one taking notes for myself, right?  And, as a firm believer that sharing is caring, here are my notes to help any of y’all out there on the verge. 

1. Freaking out at this point in the first semester is normal.

I was so happy to hear this strangely comforting statement.  We’re normal. This freak out is to be expected.   What we do with the freak out is the key.

2. Stress is normal, but being overwhelmed is not.  Many think once the paper’s written, exam given or project turned in, their stress evaporates.  However, anxiety can actually stack and not dissipate after the end.  This stacking of anxiety creates the feeling of being overwhelmed. Ugh, right?!  

How does one get rid of the growing anxiety?

The best way is The Big 5:

  1. Adequate sleep
  2. Eating healthy 
  3. Cardio exercise 30 minutes 3x week
  4. Hygiene
  5. Thinking Well of Ourselves

So after the freak out, take a walk or run. Get some sleep!  Give yourself a break…I didn’t get an A on this test but it’s not the end of the world. I can make an appointment to talk to the professor, study for the next test smarter, and know I’ve given my best effort. 

This advice is not just for your student, right? #amIrightoramIright

What to Do with Not Being Kind to Yourself

Honestly, a whole post could be devoted to this subject alone. Oprah has made millions off of it. 

    If your student is having negative thoughts/feelings about themselves or dealing with the expectations of others, good chance he or she isn’t thinking well of themselves. 

    College, while exciting, will expose students to their limitations.  Your student may have graduated first in his class, but is struggling in college calculus. Or your daughter may have been the It girl at her high school and now finds she didnt get a bid to her top pick of sorority. 

    Out of this meeting the most important thing I heard was you can’t make your student successful if he or she is resistant to help. 

    You cannot control your student. 

    Your job, as your student’s parent, is to offer your student a different perspective on a stressful event. 

    “People are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.”     Epictetus

    You can offer helpful strategies (talking to the professor, actually studying for the test instead of going to the mixer, reading the assigned chapters in the syllabus, etc.  Getting a C on this test will not keep you out of grad school) but that is all you can do. 

    Until your student’s perspective changes over the stressful event, they will not ask for help. They may describe their situation but until they help themselves, you cannot force them. 

    College is a learning experience for parents too then. For years we may have been under the mistaken belief that we could be the hero in our child’s life, having power over all harmful situations.  

    Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher in the first century,  realized that humans have no control over external things. Humans can only control their own thoughts, emotions and choices. 

    So, be there for your student. Listen to your student. Challenge your student’s views of the troubling event. Offer strategies and people who can help. And then pray your student wants the help that’s available. 

      I’m learning so much now about how my own parents had to watch me make some mistakes. They listened, they challenged my all or nothing thinking and they offered strategies and those who could help.  But they had to watch me go through some stuff.  

      I know I’ve just scratched the surface here. I would love to hear feedback from y’all how your student’s semester is going and strategies that are working for you!  Let’s keep the coversation going in the comments!

      Tuesday Tips | Cleaning Caddy Organization 

      Tuesday Tips | Cleaning Caddy Organization 

       

      Ah…the joys of organization!
       
      Today I’m discussing the super serious topic of cleaning caddies. Yes, it’s a controversial subject, but I’m willing to hit it head on, wink wink!

      Seriously, if I can establish some order, ease and prettiness in cleaning my home’s bathrooms, Imma gonna do it. 

      So here’s what works for me. And fair warning, this post may seem like a Target as (it’s not) but we all agree that Target most often has the prettiest designed items, right?

      The Caddy

      This is here my love/hate relationship kicks in with Target. As in Target stocks awesome seasonal merchandise that you see once and boom, it’s gone. 

      Here’s the love:

      You will regret seeing this caddy because its rarely spotted on Target shelves!

      This caddy is metal with wooden handles and perfect, simply perfect , for carrying cleaning bottles/products.  It makes its brief appearance in Target in May, before Memorial Day, in Target’s seasonal picnic supplies area. 

      See, it’s supposed to be a caddy for your plastic ware. The caddy comes in different colors and cost is between $14-16.  You cannot order this caddy online.  I’ve made it to Target the last 2 years to pick up extras and the shelves are bare.  It’s my great white whale. 

       

      Perfection!
       
      See what I’m talking about?  It’s perf!  I seriously don’t understand why Target doesn’t sell these year round, because they could!  Sigh. 

      Moving on, I tried to find an alternate caddy (for myself and to recommend) and also found this at Target: 

      Another pretty Target item!

      Again, this is a seasonal item as well, but it lingers much much longer than the metal caddy!  You can find this item during dorm room season in the dorm supplies section. Dorm room season for Target runs from around June to end of August.  At my local Target there were a few of these left at the end of dorm season!

       

      This caddy has pockets!
       
      This has lots more room if you need it for extra supplies and it has pockets on both sides!! I use this caddy upstairs and I’m happy to report I can also put my stash of garbage bags in one interior section as well when I’m taking out trash! Win!

      Must Have Cleaning Items 

      My prized tools when cleaning bathrooms!
       

       Microfiber Cloths:

      First up, the green, yellow, pink and blue microfiber cloths can be found here online at Target and in their stores. The 6 pack comes with 2 blue, 2 pink and 1 each of the green and yellow. I buy the six pack for the yellow and green microfiber cloths.  They. Are. The. Best. 

      The yellow cloth is for windows and mirrors and it is amazing how it cleans without leaving any streaks.  The green cloth is the thickest and best microfiber cloth I have ever use from any brand. I wish Target would just sell the yellow and green cloths separately in packs because, man, I would so buy them up!  The pink cloth is for furniture and the blue cloth is for scrubbing hard areas, but in all honesty, the yellow and green cloths are the stars!

      Glass Cleaner:

      I’m 99% natural cleaning products and I’ve made many a vinegar spray bottle to clean glass, but I Can See Clearly Now glass cleaner is all natural, smells unvinegary and works great!  Otherwise, I do use vinegar water!

      All Purpose Spray

      This is natural and I’ve discussed it here in a previous post!  I’ve been using this recipe for years and get great results!

      Miscellaneous

      You probably noticed the Lysol Dual Action Wipes poking out of my caddy!  All I have to say is the toilet bowl is where I draw the line in all natural products!! I really like the dual action as each wipe’s material is like a scrubber and let’s just say, sometimes you have to scrub the toilet!!

      Also in the photo is a used toothbrush and one of two of the OXO Deep Clean Brush Set which are the perfect tools to scrub grout or drains, etc.

      So there you have it!  These caddies are how I roll when cleaning the bathrooms in my home!  They sure make a not so fun task a little bit more cheerier!

      What are your must have cleaning products?  I’d love to hear! Am I the only one who needs a bit of pretty to get through the bathroom cleaning?

      Oak Grove Travels | Weekend Trip to Dallas!

      Oak Grove Travels | Weekend Trip to Dallas!

       

      We had the perfect view of downtown Dallas atop the Celebration Tower!
       
      Happy Monday, y’all!  Is it just me or did we arrive in November waaaaay too fast?!  

      We’ve been fortunate to travel to near and far away places recently, and Dallas was a quick trip getaway because it was a short airplane flight and place neither my husband or myself had fully explored!

      Let’s just get this outta the way…everything is bigger and better in Texas!  And while many may fly in and out of Dallas/Ft. Worth on to further destinations (Costa Rica?) Dallas is a great town to explore for its own sake!

      We flew into Dallas/Ft. Worth airport on Thursday and flew out Sunday morning. We rented a car but can honestly say after our time in the big D, would use the DART train system for our next trip as a station was convenient to each place we explored. 

      We were so happy to discover that Dallas has a Dallas City Pass.  We love using these city oases to get great discounts on museums, attractions and restaurants!  The City Pass for Dallas just recently became available. While only $44, we were able to use all 4 admission tickets in the 2 full days we were there. Perfect for a weekend!

      George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum doesn’t disappoint!

      1.  George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

      Our first stop with our city pass was George W.’s presidential library and museum.  There is plenty of parking, but the lot is a little confusing to get to, FYI. The museum is located on SMU’s campus and we enjoyed not only documenting W.’s presidential terms but also the special exhibit documenting the long history of baseball and America’s presidents. 

      2. Reunion Tower and GeO Deck

      Located in downtown Dallas, the Reunion Tower takes you approximately 740 feet up to the GeO deck where you can walk around to enjoy a 360 degree view of Dallas!

      Walking towards Reunion Tower!

      We surprisingly timed our arrival perfectly to get to the deck during the sunset and stayed to see the city skylight and its lights at night!  We were so lucky to be at the tower during amazing weather and a super clear sky!

       

      Amazing sunset reflected in the Bank of America tall building!

      Once you’re up on the deck, you can linger as long as you like. There’s even a restaurant in the tower where you can enjoy the amazing city views. 

      One word of caution….up at that height, it’s always windy!  They only protection on the outside deck are the cables. I’m not scared of heights, but I was a tad skittish out there.  I would have loved to gotten the cable free shots, but seriously, my safety and holding on to my phone were much more important!!

      Traffic constant on Dallas’ freeways!
      Bank of America building at night…with the deck cables for our protection!

      3.  Perot Museum of Nature and Science

      Yes, it’s named after Ross Perot, the no nonsense Texas billionaire who ran for President twice!  His museum is A M A Z I N G! 

      We ran into a scary dinosaur right off the bat!
       

      First, it’s a perfect museum to take your kids to…lots of hands on exhibits and a wholes loot devoted to engineering and robotics activities!

      Also, the architecture of the museum is innovative and provoking. Definitely not your run of the mill box museum. 

      Included with our ticket was a choice to watch one of three movies.  We chose a fascinating movie about Jesualem told through the perspective of three girls and their religions…Judiasm, Christianity and Islam and how they live in this walled city. 

      4.  The Sixth Floor Museum 

      The Texas School Book Depository Building on Dealey Plaza
        

      As a college History Major although I had studied the JFK assassination extensively, I had never visited the location until this trip. The Sixth Floor Museum is located on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building. The window where Lee Harvey Oswald shot is on the far right, second floor from the top in the photo above. 

      At the museum you receive a handheld audio device which tours you through the photos and displays on the 6th floor. No photos are allowed but we were able to see the window where Oswald shot from…although we could not look directly from the window. 

      Here’s the deal. There are a lot of unanswered questions about what happened that day and the following when Jack Ruby shot Oswald dead. I would say one definitely needs to go and see for yourself the relationship of the window, street and where JFK was shot to form your own opinion. 

       

      The X marks where JFK was shot during the motorcade
        
      The grassy knoll where many believe shots also were fired
       

      I would have taken more photos, but seriously, we were being hounded by conspiracy theorists on the sidewalks who were trying to sell us their DVDs and books on their conspiracy version of why JFK was shot and who was behind it. 

      Food

      Oh, Dallas has amazing Tex Mex food!  I died and went to Tex Mex heaven when we found this authentic Mexican restaurant and got quesadillas to go!

       

      Oh my stars! So delicious! the salsas were fiery hot but oh so bueno!
       
       

      Dallas definitely delivers on amazing local food and we fell in love with this Korean Japanese restaurant and bistro on our last evening in Dallas!  

      We got to see so much on our weekend trip to Dallas but definitely didn’t see all of it!  We’ll be back!

      Have you visited Dallas?  What was your favorite place or go to restaurant?  Comment below!

      Hello, November!

      Hello, November!

       

      My view these last few days
       
      We literally flew into November, arriving back to the US just a few days ago after spending an amazing week in Madrid, Spain.  

      While I’ll be sharing about Madrid’s sights and sounds here shortly, today it’s all about welcoming November.

       

      I can’t be the only one who doesnt reset her watch to make sure my “smart phone” switches to the correct time?
       

      Hello to gaining the hour back! As much as I loathe the darkness falling at 4:30 pm here in Kentucky, I’m ecstatic over getting the stolen hour back! Let’s stop all this daylight savings foolishness!

       

      My first #30daysofthanksgiving post this year! So thankful for my amazing husband that I get to travel through life together!
       

      Hello to 30 Days of Thankfulness!  November reminds us of all we have been given and should stop and acknowledge our blessings on Thanksgiving Day.  Over the past few years I have participated in expressing my daily thankfulness on social media by using the hashtag #30daysofThanksgiving .  

       

      The squirrels should be happy until I get the leaf blower out!
       

      Hello to Preparation!  Currently I’m watching the squirrels on our back deck scamper around hiding their acorns and getting ready for Winter. The squirrels remind me I have to prepare as well.  First, my home needs proper winterization if the Farmers Almanac is correct! Second, the inside of our home needs preparation for Fall decor (not Halloween and not Christmas!) Third, my heart needs preparation for Advent as it arrives at the end of November. 

         

      Starbucks can be found even in Madrid!
       
      Hello to enjoying the last of… I know I’m different, but I enjoy the last of anything…last of the Fall leaves,  the last of the local apples, the last of Starbuck’s Fall coffee cups,  the last of mowing grass/pulling weeds, last of the hot days.  The ending of one enjoyment gives way to the first of new enjoyments!  

      So, hello November!  Here’s to the extra hour, daily thanksgiving, preparing for Winter and enjoying the last of Autumn and its pleasures!

      What are you saying hello to this November?  Do you enjoy this month or is it one that causes you to happily say goodbye at its end?  

      Let’s keep the conversation going!  Join me in the comments section!