Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sprucing Up

A Fresh Start 
On Friday night I was heading upstairs to go to bed at about 10:30.  As I was turning out the lights down stairs, my guest / main floor bathroom caught my eye.  The hunter green walls (leftover from the previous owner) and I had a stare down. I just stood there, contemplating the better, brighter colors that I could put in there to make it seem more like me.  And then I remembered that I had some leftover Dolphin Fin grey from my guest bedroom remodel last fall.  I looked at the clock. I looked back at the green. I looked back at the clock.  I looked back at the green. And then I took off light switch plates. I removed the shower curtain. I relocated soap dispensers and bathroom rugs. I got to work. I didn’t mess with taping it off.  That takes too much time and never really works for me. So I free handed it. I cut out the edges. I rolled the middle. I cut out the edges again.  I rolled the middle again. Fortunately, most of the wall space in that bathroom is either mirror or tile, but there were lots of little difficult spaces to make up for it (i.e. behind the toilet). Finally, around 2:30, I finished, took a step back, and I silently celebrated my victory over the boyish hunter green with a soft, neutral gray. 


I know, I need something to hang on my wall. I'm contemplating my options.

Here is a shot of the rest of my bathroom.  Not much paint on that side of the bathroom, but now you get the full picture.

Sometimes, even in the middle of the night, you reach a breaking point and just can’t take it any more. I fought the green and the grey won.

I normally despise bathroom mirror pictures, but the majority of this post is about a bathroom so I took one anyways. This is just proof that I am a messy painter. And that my hair is not going grey. It's just paint. Promise.

My Own Little Corner of the World
I’m a little behind on the whole plant flowers, update your outdoor space, get ready for spring thing. Remember, I was scared of my patio for a while after my crash with the concrete. Last summer, I did a patio remodel, though, so I have been excited all winter long about getting my patio back to that. Last spring I painted the concrete a refreshingly bright, neutral concrete color. Because I didn’t sweep it all winter long and just let leaves sit on it, plus the fact that the entire thing is shaded, the concrete is now a nice shade of greenish grey.  Ew. One of my friends saw a picture and said “Oh, I like the green concrete. That’s cute!” Yeah, sure. Let’s pretend that was intentional…

Anyways, I planted my flowers and pulled my weeds and even planted two little cherry tomato plants, courtesy of my boss’s garden leftovers. Despite the green concrete, I love it back there. I love to sit on the glider and read. I love to eat dinner out there after work since I finally have sunlight hours to enjoy again! Last week I even dozed off on the glider. It probably isn’t the best idea for me to fall asleep in random places like that due to my history, but it happened. And I liked it.

Speaking of garden plants, my parent’s have a real garden again this year (because my sister and I begged them to). So guess what I get to do when I go home to visit? Hoe.

At least this weekend I will get to go home and enjoy some of the veggies.  Our squash and zucchini are in! 

Remember how I mentioned eating fresh blackberries in my last post? Recently I was explaining to a coworker that I had gone home and was "so excited because our blackberries are in".  To which she replied, "Blackberries? Really? I thought you were an iPhone girl."  Welcome to 2012, Emily. Next time I discuss blackberries, or apples for that matter, I should clarify whether I am referring to a fruit or an electronic. Here's a hint, though. I'm usually talking about the fruit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Southern Summer Nights

The first day of summer technically isn’t for a few more days, but in my world, summer has been in full swing for a while.  Nashville had some 80 degrees days in February, so the short sleeves have been in the front of my closet for months. I don’t get “summer break” or anything quite that wonderful like my teacher friends do, but it is a treat to have less traffic on the way to work every morning without all of the school buses and mini vans around. For me, summer means having hours of daylight after work every night. It feels like a whole, new, refreshing life after a winter of being in an office during every sunlight hour. My favorite thing about summer? The southern summer nights.

CMA Fest
My absolute favorite event in Nashville, the CMA Music Fest, was another big hit this year, of course. I went with one of my favorite friends and we watched The Band Perry, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, and (my favorite) Carrie Underwood perform, among many others. We also watched the crowd. It’s what we do. We saw the typical CMA concert crowd.  The Act-The-Song-Outers. The Let-It-All-Hang-Outers. The Drink-‘Til-You-Pass-Outers. The Can’t-Help-But-Make-Outers. The Never-Get-Outers. The I-Clearly-Have-No-Friends-Or-They-Wouldn’t-Have-Let-Me-Wear-These-Clothes-Outers. And then there’s us, acting (and looking) totally normal with a few other people in the sold-out stadium.  Sometimes I wonder if the rest of the crowd is pointing back at us as we walk by and saying, “Wow. I wonder why they wore that sun dress and cowboy boots instead of this camo halter top, tie-dyed shorts, and bedazzled fanny pack?”.

My Concert Buddy
When I was in high school, one of my best friends and I always played the cruising game. We would turn down a back road, get our speed up to the speed limit, and then let off of the gas completely. No gas. No brake. Just cruising. And we would make guesses as to how far we could coast before stopping. “I bet we can make it to the third barn on the left.” “No way, we can at least make it to the hay bales way up there on the right.” The coasting game actually takes strategy. If there are hills and curves, the length of your coast can change drastically. This is life in Small Town America.

But now I have a new kind of cruising that I LOVE to do. My dad got a motorcycle this past spring.

My first encounter with his new bike. Not exactly ready for a ride just yet.

He had motorcycles when he was younger, but never while I was alive. Now, because of these crazy gas prices, he got a small “commuter” bike just to take back and forth to work.  Well, that was the intent before I got on it. I had never even been on a bike before, but now I can’t get off of it. On almost any free afternoon that I get, we go cruising. We drive through country back roads and through tiny little towns that we have never even heard of and we stop at little farm stands and we cruise up through the KY Mennonite country. We just pick a direction and drive until we make enough turns to find our way back home again just before sunset. Every time we cruise I play the Rodney Atkins’ song “Take a Back Road” over and over again in my head. I love being on the back of a bike. I’m a little obsessed.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

Someone at work recently pointed out that I use “home” to refer to my parent’s house and “my condo” to refer to the place that I currently live. I always hear that “Home is where your heart is”. So yeah, I love my condo, but my heart is at my “home”. And this past week a huge part of my heart was at my home. My sister and nephews came in for a visit, so I took a spur of the moment trip home on a weeknight to hang out with them. My nephews and I did our favorite thing. We (mainly I) dress up in crazy costumes and then jump out from around corners to try to scare each other. I do it often enough to say that I think it has become a hobby.

Although after a while of jumping around corners, my nephew wanted to play the game outside. So we ran around in our front yard looking like this. 

I didn't realize that I looked like such a creeper until I saw the picture

Did I mention that our home is on a main highway? Did I mention our neighbors were all home? Did I mention we were in the front yard? Clearly I will do anything to make that little guy smile!

We enjoyed dinner on the deck with fresh blackberries and watermelon.

And at dusk my sister and I took a walk to the pond and picked any of the first blackberries of the season that we could find along the way.

The lightning bugs. The frogs. The sunset. There is no place like home.

Sleep Drama
And since this whole blog post is about night time activities, you know that I just have to mention my broken arm and sleeping drama. My sleep medication has been working just fine. Before the medicine, I was, to my knowledge, acting something out about 5 nights a week.  In the three weeks since starting the medicine, I have only done something twice. Big improvement. I have the hardest time ever getting out of bed in the mornings, though.  And this is coming from the girl that normally sets 4 phone alarms, a music alarm, and turns the tv on to help wake me up every morning anyways. I think I’m going to have to do the “put a really annoying beeping alarm all the way across the room” thing. We’ll see. 

I did graduate from occupational therapy recently.  I got a t-shirt and everything. My wrist has what they consider a “normal range of motion”. I say that because my wrists were normally hyper flexible.  For example, your wrist should be able to bend forwards by 70 degrees and backwards by 60 degrees.  When I completed OT, my left, broken arm was registering 90/80, which is well above normal.  However, my right wrist (and my left one pre-break) was flexible enough to bend 140/100. That’s twice the normal amount. So yeah, I’ll never get all of that back in my left arm, but at least I am “normal” again. Normal is a relative term. 

You can never have to many concerts, cruises, or cookouts.  Celebrate your summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peace Like A River

“Jesus, keep me near the cross. 
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a Healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.”

“Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross”, a song, full of words of promise and of hope and of Life have been running through my head since last Monday’s “Girl Group” Bible study. Through Thurch (our Sunday night small group which was formerly on Thursday nights. Church+Thursday=Thurch), I have met some of the strongest, most beautiful Christian girl friends that I have ever known. 

 Some of my Girl Group on our Girl's Night Out/In - Dinner in Hillsboro Village and Steel Magnolias on the couch

Recently the girls decided to do Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” Bible study together. We have only been in the study for three weeks, but I already feel like we have grown and have been challenged and have been changed both as individuals and as a church of friends. As we share our lives with one another, it has been such a blessing to see the ways that God has taken our histories and turned them into His Stories.

Last week, Beth Moore referenced Isaiah 48:18 where the people of Israel are told that they could have peace like a river and righteousness like waves of the sea. When I think of peace, I always think of stillness and quiet and calm.

I think of a late evening walk to the pond.

I think of a sunset on the beach.

I think of a life that is full of happiness and contentedness and little activity.

But as Beth Moore alluded, we aren’t promised peace like a pond. We are promised peace like a river.  A wild, rushing, ever-changing, rapidly flowing river of Living Water.  We aren’t promised a quiet, still righteousness.  We are promised righteousness as wild, but as steady as the waves of the sea that crash over us and leave us breathless for more of all things holy. We are promised a Healing stream that flows freely from Calvary. Our peace is found in the craziness. Our peace is found in the motion. Our peace is having a heart that rests in the promises of God.  A heart that, while ever changing and moving and growing and being challenged, is at rest in the hands of the One who made it. The One who gives Living Water to cleanse and heal and redeem us.

This past Thursday night at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, my two hour volunteer shift was spent entirely with a tiny baby boy who spends his days and nights alone in a hospital crib.  His name was strung across his door in a precious way that looked as if the same banner may have been used as a decoration at his baby shower. The foot of his bed was lined with stuffed animals, several embroidered with “Jesus Loves Me” or “Bless this Little Lamb”. When I crept into his dark room to peer over into his crib to see if he was awake, I saw the most precious little baby boy, squirming around, trying to break free from his swaddle. There were IV poles and monitors and beeping machines all around and I was reminded that just about a year ago when I started volunteering, I would have been intimidated. I don’t have a medical background at all, so in the beginning, anything that beeped made me jump. Carrying a child and pulling an IV pole at the same time seemed near impossible. But time has healed many of those fears.  As volunteers, we are fortunate to not know the stories behind the children. We don’t know, medically, why the children are in the hospital. We don’t know social standings or family situations.  We have the blessed ability to walk into a room with no hesitations or pre-fabricated assumptions, armed with everything that we need to bring our own source of healing to the children and families in the hospital – a smile, two open arms, and a heart full of love and attention. And on Thursday night in a sterile, yet comfortable hospital room as I rocked a sweet, cuddly baby boy and sang the only song that could come to mind -“Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross” - for two solid hours, I felt the once-restless little boy fall into the comfort of the arms of someone that he did not know, but someone that he knew was Love. Arms that, when they hold you close, bring peace. There were nurses checking in and all sorts of hospital noises and occasional diaper changes and check-ups, but there was stillness. And while I thought that I was there to bring a form of healing to this sweet baby boy, God finally got the time alone with me that He has been waiting and asking for. Not two hours of small group talking or church going or service giving - all of which are incredibly blessed times and crucial to my spiritual journey. But that night, He got two hours alone. Just with me. Two hours of holding close a quiet heart in the midst of activity.  Two hours of allowing a wild and rushing river of peace and waves of righteousness wash over my heart.

It is my prayer for you that you will have a heart that is at peace. And a heart that is overwhelmed with waves of righteousness. A heart that is ever moving and changing and flowing with Living Water.