Sunday, July 17, 2011

'Tis The Season

I have been very busy lately. Good busy, though. ‘Tis the season for lots of work during the week and lots of plans with people that I love on the weekends. (I think I am going to start using the word “’tis” in real life. 'Tis totally under-used.)

Here are some highlights:

Election Season
This past week Mr. Herman Cain came into our office. If you aren’t familiar with him yet, check him out. He is a republican making a run for the presidency (currently about 3rd or 4th in the polls), a businessman from Atlanta, a Baptist preacher, and is an incredible family man. Keep your eye on him. He's worth watching.

Me with Mr. Cain

Pool Time
I spent a lot of time hanging out with a few of my favorites recently – starting with my cousins and their kids.  While I did get whipped playing the wii, I made up for it by having the biggest cannon ball splash in the pool. I somehow got talked into doing a belly buster. I have yet to decide if my stomach is still pink from all of the sun I got or from the sting of the rather large bust that occurred. 

I had some quality pool/chat time with my girl friends from church, too. Love them. I didn’t show them my rad pool jumping skills. Maybe next time.

Barre Class
I am notorious for sleeping late and for extended periods of time. It drives my friends with kids crazy, but I am a great sleeper. I try not to nap often because there is no waking up after a ten-minute doze. Naps for me last 3 or 4 hours. On the weekends I could sleep 12-14 hours a night and still be tired. And when I say, “I woke up twice last night” it means I opened my eyes, looked at the clock, and instantly fell asleep again. There is no getting out of bed. No tossing. No turning. Well, not while I am awake anyways. I sleep walk a lot and about once a week I wake up in a different scenario than how I fell asleep – i.e. sitting in my closet floor, standing in my shower, wearing a completely different outfit, etc.  Just last week I woke myself up when I tripped the motion sensor on my alarm by going down my stairs. And I once convinced a fellow counselor at camp that all of our campers were missing, which prompted a camp-wide midnight search for fourteen girls. They were all in their beds. As was I when the counselor returned to see how my end of the search was going. Verify anything that I say after 10 pm. It might be the Sand Man talking. Anyways, all of that is to say that I have slept even harder than normal this weekend because I have been gloriously zapped by lots of time in the sun. I have spent all of my time swimming in the pool, laying by the pool, eating snacks at the pool, jumping in the pool, and going to my Barre Amped exercise class. Barre Amped is a type of exercise that incorporates pilates/yoga type exercises with the ballet barre (Who knew it wasn’t spelled b-a-r? Not me.).  It teaches small, repetitive movements to target key muscles - and they max out very quickly! We literally do the exercises with the intention of breaking down the muscle until legs, arms, and abs are shaking like crazy, which surprisingly only takes about 10-15 seconds for some of the exercises! I like it because it gives a great workout without all of the running and jumping that wears me down.

Okay, I confess. I really wanted to blog about my exercise class to give you the impression that I go regularly. I don’t. My groupon is about to expire so I had to squeeze in my last two classes this weekend. This was my first time to go since March. You won’t hear about it again until, well, until there is another groupon.

His Faithfulness
Do you ever have a song stuck in your head, not because it is constantly on the radio, but because it seems to sum up your life at that moment? Kind of like a theme song? I have had ‘Call on Jesus’ by Nicole C. Mullen in my head for a few months now. My favorite lyrics of this song are “When I call on Jesus, mountains are gonna fall cause He’ll move heaven and earth to come answer me when I call.” I have been extra aware of God’s faithfulness recently because I have actually taken the time to look for it. In the past when I have seen things happen in my life that can only be identified as God At Work, I think “Wow, how amazing. Imagine all of the things that happen that I don’t see.” And while of course I will never even come close to understanding the ways that He is faithful, I want to be more intentional about looking for it. Enter:  Prayer Box.  I sort of got the idea for a prayer box from Trish Ryan (the author of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not from my top five book list). In Revelations 5:8 there is a picture of heaven that includes “golden bowls full of incense which are prayers of the saints”.  Trish shared that when she prays she imagines that each person in heaven has a bowl to collect the prayers of believers. Sometimes she has a lot to pour into someone’s bowl, and sometimes she doesn’t know what to say, so she will just pray “God, drop a prayer in Anna’s bowl tonight.” As I was mulling over this concept, I decided that I would have an actual box to write down specific prayers so that I can date each entry and look back to see how God has worked in that request. While some of the prayers are vague, for the most part this prayer box holds prayers that usually don't have the courage to pray out loud. I think that sometimes I am sometimes scared to ask God for exactly what I want because I am afraid of being let down, seeming selfish, or testing Him. But we are told to ask freely, so I do. In this box I write down exactly the things and the people that are on my heart. I pray for babies and husbands and jobs and cancers and friendships. I beg for miracles and ask for the ‘impossible’. I love to flip through the box and see God’s faithfulness through prayers that I have sometimes forgotten about or prayed a long time ago.  When I first purchased the box, I sat down on my bed with my notepad and my mind was flooded with so many faces, situations, and names that my hand could hardly keep up with my heart. 

Here are the vague versions of some of my very first prayers that I wrote down that first night:

For a dear friend:  “Help him find a job that he loves and a job where you can use him the most.”

For myself:  “Help me to find a church family in Nashville”, “Bless me with a friendship in Nashville just like I have with my best friends from college.”, “Give me someone to talk to that understands exactly where I have been”.

I finished writing all of my prayers, dropped them into the box, and stashed it under my bed.  The next morning I got up, opened my laptop and hopped on facebook. The dear friend that I had just prayed for the night before had updated his status to say that he had just opened a piece of mail that held an acceptance letter for a program to start a new job that he had been wanting. I was shocked. I had been nervous about praying specific prayers, but God reassured me that He is faithful and He does hear my every prayer.

As far as the prayers for me, God has amazed me yet again. Last winter, I decided to place membership at the church that I had been visiting for a while.  At the New Members luncheon I sat down at a random table with a girl that has now become that friend that I asked for. And this weekend I found out that she understands exactly where I have been. In one day, one choice, one moment – God answered all three of my prayers in one swoop. Yes, it took a little while to find out that He had. But He heard my prayer and was faithful to me. He moved Heaven and Earth to get to me. For that I am grateful.

Tonight at church we sang a song to put the perfect cap on my weekend:
He knows my name,
He knows my every thought,
He sees each tear that falls,
And He hears me when I call.

'Tis Beautiful.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Middle

When I was in high school I worked in an after-care program.  If the children ever complained about being bored, the woman in charge of the program would always reply, “Don’t say you are bored. ‘Bored’ is a bad word. It means that you can’t see how blessed you are.” While she was referring to the mountains of legos, bins of baby dolls, and yard full of basketballs meant to keep the kids occupied, I find the same to be true when I feel like all I am doing is eating, sleeping, working, doing laundry, and going grocery shopping.  When nothing really new is beginning and there are no major transitions in sight, it is easy to become ‘bored’ with the day-to-day. Sometimes when I am caught up in the middle of the “mundane” I forget how great each step of the journey really is.

But sometimes being caught up in the middle is the best place to be…

Because in the middle of the field lies a well beaten path between two families.

Because somewhere in the middle of the nail polish color spectrum right between the mistakes of Satin Apple (too pink) and Weathered Brick (too brown) lies Raven Red - the perfect summer shade.

Because in the middle of the thorns and briars lie plump blackberries waiting to be picked.

Because somewhere in the middle of a broken relationship you realize that time has flown by and taken some of the hurt away with it.

Because in the middle of dirt and the leaves are garden-fresh vegetables.

Because in the middle of a good book you stumble across a character that looks and sounds and acts exactly like you.

Because in the middle of a stack of bills you receive an Amazon package with a children’s book that your friend has illustrated.

In one of my favorite Full House episodes Uncle Joey tells Stephanie that being the middle child isn’t so bad after all because, “Middles are the best. No one would like Oreos if it weren’t for the cream filling.” This week, I am thankful for life’s cream filling. Double Stuffed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Emily’s Top Five: Bucket List for 2011

Emily’s Top Five:  Bucket List for 2011

I have already explained how I rank everything. In a perfect marriage with my rankings, I also make lists. A lot. In fact, I make lists of lists to make. I wish I were kidding. Now, most of the time my lists stay stuck to the forgotten side of my fridge so far out of the way that I forget they are there. And when I clean out my purse, it typically involves pulling out random, wadded up post-it notes of things that I have jotted down while at work. Perhaps I should add “Organizing My Lists” to my to-do list. But the best feeling in the world is crossing something off of the list. Finally remembering to pick up Pledge in the grocery store, returning the RedBox movie that is slowly collecting dust on my mantle while quickly draining my account, and finally cleaning out my outdoor closet (Eek. Spiders!) are all little victories that just beg for a dramatic celebration when I pull out my nifty post-it pen and put another bold black streak across my “Live.Love.Appreciate.Enjoy.” magnetic notepad.  In fact, if I accomplish something that isn’t on my list I write it down just to cross it off. It feels that good.

Because I believe dreaming and doing should never be mutually exclusive, I have made a list of 5 things that I have been wanting to do for a while. They are things that I absolutely want to do in the last 6 months of 2011. So here it is:  Emily’s Bucket List for 2011. Keep me accountable. I promise to post pictures.

1. Get a Passport and Make Plans to Use It
I travel fairly often, but I have never left America. This has to change asap. I can’t take it any longer. I will be getting a passport this year and I will be planning a vacation abroad before the year is over.

2. Be an Active Volunteer
One night every month I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville. If you aren’t familiar with the organization, check it out. They are doing incredible things in this city by taking care of the families of our sick children. What a blessing to have them right here in our backyard. We need them.

My volunteer night is always a highlight of my month.  It gives me a purpose and reminds me that I am a part of a world that is so much bigger than myself.  This year, I want to find an additional organization that needs me. I have time and love and smiles to give.

3. Learn to Make Pasta
I was talking to my Dallas Friend tonight and she gave me the run-down on some yummy pasta that she had eaten from Macaroni Grill. Mushroom Ravioli with Cream Sauce. Okay, that actually doesn’t sound that great to me because I don’t care for mushrooms or cream sauce, but hearing about her ravioli combined with the fact that I had just finished my first Thai food experience at The Smiling Elephant where I had PadThai with rice noodles reminded me of a little goal of mine.  I want to learn how to make my own pasta… like the actual noodles. I hear ravioli noodles are easier for beginners, so that will be where I start. Have a great recipe? Do share. Want to help? We all know I’ll need it. Come on over. 

4. Attend a “Welcome Home” for Soldiers
I have always seen welcome home events at Fort Campbell highlighted on the local news.  I always think, “Wow. That would be the coolest thing ever to witness all of these soldiers proudly coming home from war and being reunited with their families.” I get this overwhelmingly proud and patriotic feeling just watching the thirty-second news spot. These people deserve to have homemade signs waved in their direction, loud eruptions of cheers, and seas of grateful citizens decked out in red, white, and blue attire every time they bring a plane of warriors home. I will be one of those people soon. I’m really excited. This might be my favorite thing on my list.

5. Go Skydiving
I am convinced that I must go skydiving. I don’t really remember what planted that idea, but it has been in the front of my mind and hasn’t faded for a while. I almost bought a groupon with a friend, but, fortunately, this chronic googler did the research that I clearly had not done and determined that the company offering the deal had a horrible Better Business Bureau score and a shady past. Not the kind of company I want to sky dive with. Note to self: Google.

So here’s to new adventures, new foods, new experiences, and new challenges. What’s on your bucket list for 2011? Make a list. Cross things off. As Matt Maher sings, “This is the first day of the rest of your life”. Make it count.

Want a little glimpse of my Lifetime Bucket List?
1. Watch the Ball Drop on New Year's Eve in Time's Square.
2. Write a Book.
3. Start a Charity.
4. Own a Vacation Home on the Beach.
5. Be a Foster Parent.
6. Ride on an Elephant in Africa.
7. Run for Public Office.
8. Be a Really Awesome Wife.
9. Go Zip-lining in Hawaii (Hopefully to be crossed off soon).
10. Visit All 50 States.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cause Baby You're A Firework

I love the Fourth of July. Growing up it always meant long days at the lake with the cousins. My mom surprised my dad with a sea-doo for Christmas one year. While I still rag on them for selling it before I was old enough to really appreciate it, I made plenty of great memories and was dubbed the “Speed Demon”.

In high school I started nannying during the summers in East Hampton.  The Fourth of July always held my favorite memories.  Toddlers in seersucker shorts, bonfires on the sand, lobster bakes on the shoreline. Love. 

This year? Another favorite year.


My hometown is a small little town that apparently hosts big galas. I think the entire town crammed into the main strip on Saturday night to celebrate with fireworks. We spread out our quilt in front of Kroger and all enjoyed the show. Of course, I had a child in my lap so I called out the color of every firework and said lots of dramatic “Ooooos” and “Aaaaaas”.  Am I the only one who sang Katy Perry's "Firework" all weekend long?

My Favorite Food

For dinner my mom spoiled me with my favorite thing ever: Grilled Salmon with her special Salmon Sauce. Okay, the term Salmon Sauce sounds gross, so I should probably rename it something like Heavenly Goodness.  I don’t remember exactly what is in it, but it is something like teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds, olive oil, and about 20 other things that I never remember. It is made for the salmon, but I pour it on my entire plate – mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, etc. It is that good.

Blackberry Picking

On Sunday morning before church I woke up early (aka 8 am) to pick blackberries from the fence rows before the sun was too hot. It was still hot, but not much can keep me from those berries. I put just as many in my mouth as I do in the bucket. Every year I go picking about 4 or 5 times, and every year I drop my bucket at least once and spend 30 minutes picking up stray blackberries from the field. Epic failure. This time, I held on tight and every berry made it back to the house. My fingers and tongue have been a light shade of purple for days.

A Flat Tire

This was a minor wrinkle in the weekend. I am all about girl power. I do things the hard way just to prove that I can do it by myself. Have a heavy box in the car? Open the box and carry the contents piece by piece. Have a paint job that needs a touch up? There are sharpies for that. But cars? No way. I am not a car person. In fact, the car conversation went something like this:
Dad: (Points to my car) Emily, you’ve got a problem.
Me: (Looks intently at car.) What?
Dad: Honey, your tire is flat.
Me: Which one?
Dad: The one so flat that the rim is nearly sitting on the ground.
Me: Oh. Daaaaaaaaddyyyyy. Can you fix it? Pleeeeaaaaasssseeeee?
Thank goodness for Daddy! He can fix anything.

Mom's Birthday Brunch

My Sister’s Striped Cake

This is Mom’s traditional birthday cake.  It is usually red, white and blue in the middle, but this year my nephew chose a zebra pattern. He is in to wild animals right now. All weekend long my entire family was assigned to a wild animal. I was a Tarantula.

 Sister is a talented baker. And the boys loved eating it.

The gift wrapping is always way more fun than the gifts.

Sister made mom (and me) checkbook covers made out of our Pa’s old ties. I wish I were crafty! They are too cute. Here is a picture of mine.

I told mom that she was going with me to Hawaii for one of my best friend’s weddings in January. We spent the rest of the day hula dancing in the kitchen. Well, I did anyways.

I topped off the three day weekend with a lot of pool time and a touch of shopping. I just can't believe that the summer is half way over! Lots of memories left to make!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Warm Welcome

Ah, July. How I have waited for you! I have wished away the other months just to get to you! You are full of concerts and fireworks and pool parties.

At a CMA Fest Concert

You sound like Van Morrison and smell of coconut and lime.  For you, I even ironed my white pants.  But most of all, I am excited because you bring me what I have been waiting for all year: Yellowstone National Park with two incredible friends. I am known to not like dirt or animals and no one would call me “outdoorsy”. So I have been preparing. I went shopping and bought the only pair of North Face hiking shoes that had pink on them. I googled pictures of Yellowstone and even located it on a US map. And I bought a plane ticket.  That’s about it. Hopefully my preparation will help me survive camping in the vast national park, catching my own food, avoiding bears, and rafting through white rapids. We’ll see. No matter what, it will be the trip of a lifetime and definitely something to blog about.

July, I hope you bring me great fun and big memories. Please be good to me!