Friday, June 29, 2012

Something To Ponder

In my little office (that isn't really an office it's more of a break room type of area), I have a little flip calendar of inspirational sayings.  It was a gift from my friend Amanda & I have flipped through it every year since I got it.  There are some favorites in there that I always anticipate & then there are the other quotes that seem brand new each time I read them.  I blame my bad memory on a vitamin deficiency.  You can claim the same excuse, if needed.  
Anyway, I flipped the page this morning & this little gem greeted me:

And I kind of caught my breath & furrowed my brow & blinked hard.  Hours later I still have to furrow my brow & blink hard because this truth struck me hard.  If there is one thing about 2012 that rings true for me, it's that I do not know where I am being led.  The Lord has dragged me kicking & screaming down paths that I never, ever would have chosen.  And even as I type this I know that I have brought a lot of additional heartache upon myself because of the kicking & screaming.  It's hard to go to the Lord for comfort when I am stiff-arming Him & daring Him to do something else that will again shatter my illusion of control over this life. I have been challenged to examine whether or not I love & know Him.  I think I thought I did.  But I also think that my knowledge of Him & love for Him have been shallow & academic, at best.  Yes, I have experienced God; I've seen Him work - answering prayer, providing, comforting, & sustaining.  But I have also been complacent, withdrawn, & independent when I thought I had things in my life under control.  And during that time I have forgotten Him - who He is & what it means to love Him & trust Him.

So, here I am again trying to sort out the twisted mess that has become my thinking.  I can only ask for His help & start leaning on His guiding arm.  And you know, I had better learn to lay off of the kicking & screaming.  Submission is a hard lesson, but a worthy one.  And the list of worthy lessons that I need to learn & apply is a long one!

Here are some verses from the Psalms that have been a help to me this week.  Maybe they will encourage you, too.  Hopefully I'll check back here sometime & see that I've made some progress on this journey with the Lord.  I guess time will tell...
*I've added italics to the phrases that I really want to remember.

Psalm 73:23-26
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 43:5 
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Psalm 84:11-12
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

I hope you all have a blessed weekend & if you are struggling through some things like I am, keep up the good fight of faith.  And challenge me to do the same.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Since I have been on the evil side of a funk lately (& let me tell you, there is no fun in funk) I think it's time for a little attitude adjustment.  Nobody likes a grouch or a complainer or a crankypants.  Oh, & I'm certain that it's not God's will for me to be this way.  
It's time for a bit of a focus shift.  I'm purposely taking my eyes off of my To Do List so that I can write this post.  I am more than a little overwhelmed with things that need to be done & that is a huge part of my crankypants issues.  I also still miss my mom much more than a little.  I know this will never go away but I do look forward to the sharp edge dulling down just a bit.  And so to put away some of my grouchy issues I'm proposing a refocus - time to think about my blessings because they are many.  I hope you'll join me!

::This pic is overflowing with things I'm thankful for.  It's from last night when I got to meet Beth for a run.  We took a lot of time to just work out & be together.  It was so good to just talk & laugh & relax.  We got rained on while we were running.  It wasn't a lot of rain, but I'm grateful for every drop.  As we were leaving to head home we saw this rainbow.  A gorgeous reminder of God's faithful promise to never flood the earth. When I see a rainbow I think of that promise but I also think of the many other promises He makes & faithfully keeps.  Wow.  The clematis is a pic Beth sent to me from her garden.  Talk about beautiful.  That intense color would have made Mom squeal.

::Psalm 43:5
Why are you cast down, O my soul, & why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation & my God.
I read this verse in my quiet time this morning.  And it really fits where I am right now.  I struggle with feeling so low & so agitated.  I do feel hopeless about several things in my life.  But this verse helps me remember that the valleys don't last forever.  God is still with me & I will hope again & I will praise Him - I can praise Him for my salvation no matter what.  My life won't always be what it is now.  There is hope, even when my emotions lie to me & tell me that hope is gone.  I must listen to truth, not emotion.

::As I continue reading in "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn I am so encouraged about eternity.  It's incredibly comforting to learn about what the New Earth will be like.  I never really anticipated Heaven before because I erroneously thought it would be completely foreign with nothing I would recognize.  As I've done more study I have learned that isn't the case.  The book has been a blessing.

::I'm grateful for church & times I can worship, even with tears streaming down my cheeks.  This past Sunday I was not having a good day.  A friend who spends most of her year in Florida came home & she was upset about Mom, missing her & another church family member who died recently.  That was all it took to make me come undone.  There were tears & sniffling & digging for tissues, but there was still blessing in worship.  I'm even grateful for hymns about Heaven & other hymns like, "God Will Take Care of You."  I break down just about every time we sing but the words go straight to my soul & remind me of my incredible Lord & all He has done for us - in this life & the next.  How can that not affect me?  It didn't use to; it does now, in a mighty way.  And I'm grateful.

::I'm grateful for rest, & Fridays, & a weekend ahead.  Yes, I'm going to run myself ragged with chores & activities & getting ready for the new week, but at least I won't punch a time clock for two days.  Hopefully I get the house cleaned, the laundry caught up, & other junk like that.  I'll also go on a canoeing trip with the youth group from church.  I already know that canoeing will be super fun - even if there isn't much water due to our lack of rain.  Just being outside is happiness to me.  So I'll make my to do lists & try to plan the weekend & strive for some sort of balance.  It probably won't work but I'll give it a shot & try to enjoy myself along the way!

::I'm grateful for some new running shoes.  My feet have been hurting like who had it!  The other running shoes I was wearing just weren't making the cut.  I haven't had them for very long (maybe six months) so I just hated to spring for another pair ($96!) but it had to be done if I was going to keep running or if I was not going to destroy my feet.  I picked out a new pair of Mizunos yesterday & on last night's test run they performed fabulously.  My feet are happy, I'm happy.

::I'm thankful for Mike.  He puts up with my moodiness like no other person who has ever known me (& he bears the brunt of it, poor guy).  I know God made him just for me because any other man would have left running & screaming by now.  Marriage isn't easy; it's hard work.  And I'm grateful I'm with someone who is so worth the effort.

Kind of a rambling, wordy mess but it was just what I needed to think through today.  What blessings are you focusing on today?  It might mean I'm just a little bit nosey, but I'd love to hear all about it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Instituting A New Rule

I'm not here to bore you with another diatribe about how I'm struggling in my day to day life, working hard to keep my head above water & get just the normal daily stuff done...  

I'm here to tell you about my brilliant plan to fix it all!  

Hehe...not quite.  But I have instituted a new rule.  Recently I've been sick & tired of feeling so tired.  I had been to the doctor & had a whole gamut of blood tests run (you'll have to forgive me for being a hypochondriac; considering our recent family history I just needed some peace of mind, you know?).  Anyway, it turns out that I am healthy - no anemia, no Lupus, no nothing.  Thank God.  But that means nothing other than my horrible schedule & sometimes horrible eating habits could be the cause of my weariness.  Hmmm.  While I was mulling this over I thought through my commitments, my daily chores, my stuff & decided that there was one rule I MUST begin to follow.

I call it my 9/10 o'clock rule.  And it applies to every night of the week, Sunday through Thursday.  If I am away from home, at 9:00 P.M. I have to hit the road & get home.  Whatever I am doing, at 10:00 P.M. I have to set it down & start getting ready for bed.  Nothing in my life is so urgent or so important that it cannot wait until the next day.  Whatever is in my hand at 10 o'clock is going to be put down & that is just that.  The goal is to be snuggled under the covers reading or talking with Mike or just going to sleep by 10:15.  That way, when the alarm goes off at 4:50 A.M. I'll be less likely to cuss & moan & cry.  Hopefully I'll be rested enough to thank God for the gift of another day.

I've followed the rule successfully for three nights now.  I have been able to get up with Mike, see him out the door, & not go back to bed.  I had gotten into a frightful habit of snuggling down for another 45 minutes of sleep but it was just awful because I had to wake up again - it was like suffering through two mornings!  With that extra 45 minutes I have time to get ready for work without getting hives from the hurry & I also have time to read my Bible & do some studying.  This is a very good thing.

This morning I snuggled up under a blanket Mom gave me for Christmas
& read another chapter in the book I'm reading about Heaven.
It was just the encouragement I needed for the new day!
"There is not one inch in the entire area of our human life about which Christ,
who is sovereign of all, does not cry out, "Mine!"
Abraham Kuyper
With my new rule in place I have discovered that I arrive at work with a calmer, more alert spirit.  I hope that the greater amount of rest will help me deal with my early morning grumpies.  I'm sure my coworkers share this same hope!

And my day just got better when I got to partake of these beauties!
Oh, how I love sweet summer fruit!

And just for giggles I thought I would show you this handsome guy.  I found him on our car yesterday.  The pic doesn't really do him justice because this spider literally glowed a yellowish/greenish fluorescent color.  And get a look at those legs!  I don't know, he just looked really mean to me.  *shudder*

The only thing I don't love about summer - the bugs!
What are some of your little tricks to help you stay rested?  Do you stay up extra late & then sleep in?  Do you go to bed early & get up early?  Are you a nap-taker?  

Friday, June 15, 2012

An Answered Prayer *sigh*

I got a phone call from my dad this morning.  This used to be something that never happened but now happens on a fairly regular basis. I don't mind; I like talking to him - he's my dad.  I just wish we had gotten to this place without losing Mom...
Anyway, he called to give me some news.  Since Mom died we knew that we would have to sell her car.  It was expensive & Dad's income has been drastically reduced.  We wanted him to be able to keep the house - let's unload the car!  Thus began the selling efforts.  I bought a sign & we filled it out.  I drove the car to work on several occasions so that it could be parked in a high traffic area.  Nothing happened.  We listed it on ebay.  Nothing happened.  We put an ad in the local paper & relisted it on ebay.  Something happened.
There were two men who expressed serious interest in the car - one even went so far as to say that he would call & let Dad know when he would be there with the check!  He never showed up & we definitely got no check.
The second guy was also very seriously interested right from the start.  But it took him something like two whole weeks to get the deal done!  He drove it.  He asked to drive it again.  He wasn't going in to get his loan because the loan agent he preferred to work with was on vacation, blah, blah, blah.  I really didn't have much hope that things would work out with this guy; he seemed too unable to focus.  I am not that kind of shopper.  When I find what I want I get it bought, people!
Well today, he got it bought.
I'm so thankful that the Lord has answered this prayer & removed this burden from Dad's shoulders.  He's had a lot to deal with & the list is still kind of long.  Now we have one more item marked off.  I hung up with him this morning & left to make a delivery for work.  I have to admit that the hour long drive was a somber one & yeah, there were some tears.  Over a dumb car.  I know it's not true, but it feels like I've lost another piece of Mom.  I can see her driving that car, reaching over from the driver's seat to give me a hug before she dropping me off, giggling over the heated/cooled seats, & singing along with me to some Celtic Thunder tune...such good times with such a good momma.  Even though the car is gone, I will not forget those memories.  And I will praise the Lord for this good thing He has done for us.  A wise friend shared a verse with me recently:

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are GLAD.  
Psalm 126:3

I'm grateful that no matter how I feel about things, God's truth is there to correct my emotions & train my thought processes.  What great things has He done for you lately?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Tale of Timbers & Tomatoes

You know I promised you a happy post, right?  Well, here it is!

Mike & I have had this little list of projects to do around our house to make it a little bit more sell-able.  One of the projects was to create an off of the roadside parking area.  We traded our trusty Corolla for a new Hyundai Elantra in April so we were a little more motivated to get this project done.  After some time out in the yard tossing ideas around we finally came up with a plan & this Saturday afternoon (kind of on a whim) we decided to get started.  We bought landscaping timbers & stacked them two deep to create a landscaping bed & the parking area.  Here are some pics to take you on a little tour around our 'parking lot'.

The method we used to install the timbers is fairly simple.  We laid them out & Mike had this little system to check & make sure that the corners were crossed instead of stacked & that no seams on the bottom lined up with seams on the top.  Then we drilled 3 1/2" deck screws through the timbers in key spots to hold them together.  Then we drilled holes at both ends of each timber for 1/2" rebar.

Rebar is available in 36" pieces so we bought a bunch of those & Mike used his grinder to cut them in half.  It looks like fireworks, doesn't it?  I don't know how he didn't catch on fire; perhaps it was my nonstop praying for protection?!
After the rebar was cut, the fun began!  We used sledge hammers to drive the rebar into the ground.  We finished this part on Monday night.  Mike went out there at about 8:45 & I thought he was just going to drill the rebar holes.  He got motivated & decided to cut the rebar, too.  Once it was cut, why not drive it in?  So there we were, pounding rebar after 9:00 (I was still in my nice work clothes!).  Thank the Lord for speed & Daylight Savings Time for the long twilight & we go it done!

We have the little sledge & then the 10 pound Granddaddy.  I used the little guy mostly but I did use the Granddaddy a little bit, too.  Yeow, I need to lift some weights!

It's such a blessing to have this hard part of the project done.  Now we just need to remove some of the grass & dirt to level things out a bit.  After that's done, we will have some white rock delivered to spread out over the parking area.  As far as the landscaping bed goes, we need to have some meetings with my dad on that one, since he's a landscaper & all.

What's your opinion?  Does a parking area like this help to make up for no garage?  Or does off the street parking not mean much & you'd rather have more yard?

And then let me tell you about this.  Last year I had this crazy number of volunteer tomato plants.  A couple of weeks ago I was walking around our yard with Dad & he pointed out to me that there were several tomato starts coming up right where the biggest plant had grown last year.  I danced for joy.  Right there in the yard.  I'm not ashamed.  My niece Maddie, came over last week to help me around the house because she wants a 'job'.  I was more than happy to let her come because it was so fun to hang out.  While she was there we transplanted all of the tomato starts to a narrow bed that runs along the east side of our house. We have blossoms.  We even have one tomato coming on already.  Maddie danced for joy with me.  God is so good to me.  He knows how I love my tomatoes & He makes sure I can get them!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Feeling A Bit Introspective...

This week at work I have been assigned some additional training.  At first I was almost excited - learning something new!  Something to do!  Yay!  And then I got the coursework.  OY.

My company has been involved with a training system for a couple of years that has courses broken down & labeled like karate belts.  Apparently I finished the white belt training a long time ago (it obviously had a huge impact on my work).  Recently my boss was told that at least two people at every location are required to have the yellow belt training.  He had already completed it so I was his choice for #2.  Lucky me.

The course is pages & pages of strange terms & formulas & graphs.  The DMAIC cycle, Six Sigma, Fishbone Diagrams, Kaizen Events, Scatter Plots, the 5 Whys...I could go on & on.  This stuff is very foreign to me.  Much of it was developed by Toyota so I have let my brother (an engineer for Toyota) know that I am not impressed by their ideas at.all.  Hmph.  He laughed at me because he totally thinks like this.  This kind of thinking is not at all my normal thought process.  I'm far more ADHD & my thoughts flit like butterflies.  I'm not ashamed.

But one concept did intrigue me & I even felt kind of compelled to try it.  It's called the Fishbone Diagram.  Basically (& believe me, I'll be basic - I don't want to bore you!), what the fishbone does is help identify all of the possible root causes of a specific problem.  Sounds effective, doesn't it?
For instance, say my problem is that I am freezing cold.  Possible causes of this problem include:
I work with all men who are totally unreasonable about thermostat settings
I am outside in Alaska during a blizzard
I am eating ice cream while sitting in a walk in cooler
I am suffering some sort of health problem that causes me to feel cold under normal conditions
I am weird

Then you take this helpful information & put it on a little graph thing that looks kind of like a fish's spine.  Then you have a visual to help you analyze the cause & effect relationships.  If I was super computer cool I could create one for you to see, but I'm not so I won't.

Anyway, that for instance was a little ridiculous, but hopefully you kind of understand how this thing works.  The problem is, I'm too mentally lazy or unmotivated or too stunted or whatever to do that mental work.  I honestly couldn't care less about applying these tools to my workplace (frankly, no one ever would listen to me if I did try).  But I was thinking as I read this lesson that there are many areas of my personal life where this kind of introspection could probably be very helpful.  I have a lot of problems lately; I'll admit it.  I have issues with myself, issues with God, issues in name it.  Truthfully, I'm fairly certain all of this was there before Mom died but it was just squelched down out of sight.  Now I'm just not capable of the squelching & I'm feeling a bit more real about my struggles.  I've acknowledged them (I'm actually thinking of making a list; it's a bit more my style than the fishbone, truthfully).  I know this life is a struggle & I just can't give up.  I really don't know what giving up might look like so maybe I've already done it?!  I hope not; I don't like feeling like a failure as a Christian, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend...I know that Proverbs says that a righteous man will fall seven times but he gets back up again.  So I'm trying to get back up - AGAIN.

Some of my goals that I've been trying to keep in the forefront of my thinking include these very basic things:
*Read my Bible.  Ready for an ugly confession?  I haven't opened my Bible of my own volition to sit down & read it since my Mom died.  I'm ashamed of that but I haven't made it over this hurdle yet.  That's why the texted verses & flip charts & emails have been such a blessing to me.  When I've been too stubborn or whatever to seek His promises, He has brought them to me.  So I've got to start reading my Bible!
*Eat breakfast at home.  I have been so bad about making myself get up in the morning that it has become routine for me to scarf down a cup of cereal on the way to work.  It's messy, it's hurried, & it's not the kind of breakfast I even want to eat.  Since I got my hair cut it's helped some (major time saver!!) but I'm still scarfing granola out of a cup & praying I don't spill.
*Stop wallowing in the bad feelings.  They will come & they will have to go.  Somehow (probably through the accomplishment of the first goal) I have to let the Lord give me my joy back.  The bad feelings just lead to bad actions like skipping runs, eating junk, complaining, spending, & who knows what all else.
*Get our house back in order.  Right now it's a disaster.  It's always been a challenge: we have a small house filled with a lot of stuff, I tend to dramatize the situation & label it an abomination & give up when things aren't truly that bad (& when I give up then they get real bad), Mike is very easy going about tidiness & dust so there's no pressure from him to step it up, & so on.  But the truth is that I don't feel comfortable in our own home right now & I need to do some work to change that & stop feeling all upset & angst-y about it.  Stop feeling & start doing.  Maybe that should be my new mantra?

I really do have some happy things to write about...they'll be here soon.  Until then, this is where I'm at; thanks for hanging with me & my Fishbone Diagram.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Covington 5K

A week ago we did something unthinkable.  On a Saturday morning we got up early.  It was painful.  It was agonizing.  The alarm went off for me at 5:30.  For my sister, it went off at 5:00.  I'm not sure about everyone else, but I know all the alarms went off well before 7:00 a.m. 
You ask, "Why, PharmGirl?  Why would you do that?  Why would you be so crazy?!"  I'll tell you why.  We had a race to run. 
His shirt sums it up best!
"Cross country is a mental sport
and we are all insane!!"
 Our friend Carol lives in Covington, about a hour away.  Each year Covington organizes a 5K race to help support their walking/running/biking trail loop.  This year there are several of us who have been running, walking, consistently trying to get in shape & lose know the drill.  So we decided to race together!  And we also decided to follow the race with a good, hearty, healthy breakfast & lots of visiting to catch up.  It was absolutely worth the early rising!

I totally thought Beth was going to snag an award.  She has really been working on her speed & it has really paid off by shaving almost four minutes off of her 5K time.  But alas! there were some speedy chicks at this here race & we were not any of them.  But that's ok.  We had other things to celebrate:
Beth - a new personal record
Steph - her first 5K!  And she ran the whole distance!
PharmGirl - I didn't die!
Becky - her first 5K!
Carol - her first 5K!

Carol, Beth, PharmGirl, Becky, & Steph

We had a blast.  It was so fun having racing buddies.  We're going to do it again.  Anyone want to join us?  And it doesn't matter if you walk or run or crawl - the more the merrier totally applies here!

Friday, June 8, 2012

I did it!

This week I had a really important appointment to keep.  It took a long time for this day to come & I was ready.

Well over a year ago I decided to grow my hair out so that I could donate it to Locks Of Love.  It was kind of an ambitious goal for me because I haven't had my hair much longer than shoulder length for about 10 years.  Plus I have a lot of gray hair, I color it every six weeks, & I sometimes go through seasons of shedding which leave me just about ready for a wig or wiglet myself.  But it seemed like something I could at least try to do, so I made it a goal.

And let me tell you, I was ready to have it cut.  The longer it got, the harder it got to deal with.  I couldn't wear it up a lot because it made the shedding worse.  The weather had started to get warmer & more humid & that made it crazy frizzy unmanageable.  I was just kind of letting it wig out of control to avoid putting too much product or heat on it & I wasn't feeling too pretty most days (not that me feeling pretty matters much). This photo was taken the morning of my haircut appointment.  I straightened it that day so that hopefully we could get an easy measurement of the length.  

After work I headed straight to DeAnn's hair-cutting chair.  She had blocked off some extra time because she knew I was thinking I was ready for the big whop.  I got really nervous before I got to the shop so I called my sister.  She wisely reminded me it was just hair; it would grow back.  And besides that, new styles can be a lot of fun.  Beth is one smart cookie.  I am blessed to have her on my speed dial.

And here it is!  My little hair donation ponytail!  It doesn't look very long but it is all curled up inside of itself. Ornery to the very end, my hair is.

 And here's the new 'do!  DeAnn is such a fabulous friend & hair girl.  I love her.  If you're local, I will get you her number & set up you.  You'll never regret letting her work on your tresses.  She took nearly three hours to color & style me up, letting me have a lot of say in how the style took shape.  Then she took several minutes to explain to me how she styled it so that I would know what to do on my own.  I've never had short hair so I was a little intimidated.

And I've been a little obsessed with self portraits.  I kind of don't recognize myself but I really think I like the short 'do.  It's super easy although I keep using way too much shampoo & conditioner!  It dries so quickly & I just have a minimal amount of fuss to shape it pretty much the way I want.  I think it might be just a little to boofy around my ears so I may call DeAnn & see if she can help me out with that.

And here's my attempt at a shot of the back for you.  It is different.  I keep feeling like I've put my hair up & I need to let it down.  And then I reach up there & there's no pony tail! no messy bun!  Just this soft, wavy, short hair!  A major plus is that I don't even need any products except for a little bit of hairspray.  Is it bad that I feel like short hair could be a major money saver for me?

This picture was my inspiration shot.  I totally fell in love with the television show "Once Upon A Time" this winter & I also fell in love Ginnifer Goodwin's short 'do.  Seriously, if I hadn't seen her 'do I don't think I would have been emboldened to cut this much off.  I think we copied it fairly well.  What do you think?

Part of the reason I have been so happy with this major change is that I know that Mom loves it.  She chose to wear her hair short & she always wanted me to wear mine short, too.  She just thought it would be easier to handle & that my natural wave & bounce would work better with shorter hair.  Once again, I think momma knows best.  Her other opinion on my hair was that I should let my gray show & stop all the coloring.  Honestly, I've been mulling this one over, too.  The dye seems to really irritate my scalp & I just don't think it's possible that all that irritation couldn't be bad for me.  But, baby steps...can't do everything drastic all at once!

Have any of you donated your hair before?  are you working on it now?  are you thinking about it?  Tell us your story!