Saturday, April 8, 2017

When Life Throws You Hurdles

I spent the day with my daughter at her latest college track meet. She has been running track for the last eight or nine years. Over the course of her career, the majority of the events that she participated in were simple running events, though she did spend a season or two doing hurdles back in high school.

Recently, Kari's life has been filled with struggles and anxiety. As a junior nursing student she faces the daily struggle of too many chapters to read, difficult material, and frequent tests. This all comes on top of an already full schedule of track practices, weight sessions, and meets.

The past two weeks, in particular, have been difficult ones, with her dad and I getting frequent calls and texts. We have talked with her, advised her, been there to just listen, and - most importantly- prayed for her.

Then, her coach recently decided that she would need to run the steeplechase event at today's meet. (For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this event, allow me to explain. The steeplechase is a 3000 meter event in which the participant rounds the track, jumping 35 barriers over the course of the entire race, including a barrier with a water hazard. To give you an idea of how long the race is- today's race involved 7.5 laps around the college track with 5 barriers in each lap.)

For the past week, Kari has thought about, talked about, and stressed about this event. After all, she had several hurdles to overcome (pardon the pun). Her college does not have an actual track where she can practice, so she had never run the full 3000 meters with barriers. She also had never encountered an actual water hazard, though she had seen one at previous years' meets. Furthermore, she had not done any type of hurdle event since early high school.

Today, Kari conquered those hurdles!

When she came to a hurdle she found a way to get over it and when she landed in the water (2.5 feet deep at the lowest side) she climbed her way out and kept running! It wasn't perfect hurdle form, but she did get over them!

As I watched her make her way around that track, crossing each hurdle, and rounding each lap, I also hoped that it would help her learn a much deeper life lesson. Just as she was able to conquer these literal hurdles that were in her path, so can she conquer the hurdles that life throws her way.

She is not the only student I know who is struggling at this point in the school year. The last month of the semester is always filled with that PUSH to finish the material in the necessary chapters. This means more tests, more assignments, and an often overloaded schedule. These can all be potential hurdles that prevent a student from finishing the school year in a strong way. When this happens, DON'T give up! DON'T fret and worry! Just keep on plugging along, working at a steady pace, and continuing to do your best. You CAN overcome! When life throws you hurdles- just keep working to get over them, giving of your very best!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

I have not posted in a while because I have been busy, busy, busy!

Over the past year, my craft room has become more of a "pile" room. I found myself sewing more and working on my paper crafts less and less, primarily due to the fact that I did not have a good desktop surface to work on. Years ago, my father built a nice L-shaped desk for me, but with technology increases, the desktop quickly became covered. Now that I have a wireless printer and a wireless computer, I have the potential to move things around, if I had the space. The desk that he built for me was truly built in- no moving that thing.

I have been saving my money from crochet projects and have accumulated enough that I can actually think about a trip to IKEA to buy new furniture- furniture that I can actually move and manipulate to fit my space better.

With retirement, I actually have the time to begin weeding through things and emptying the room out. When Kari went back to college for the spring semester I asked her if it would be ok for me to use her bedroom as a "holding room" for everything while I tear out, paint, and purchase everything. She kindly agreed. (It is probably a good thing that she does not come home very often because she certainly could not get to her bed right now. LOL!)

I am excited about the potential that lies before me, but I am anxious too. I know that I am going to have to part with some of my wonderful stash- but I am finding good homes for it! In case you were not aware, the Owsley County High School now has a "Make It" Lab that enables students to use their creativity to show their knowledge. I have already filled a box or two that will be going to the lab and will definitely have more before this creative journey is done. If you find yourself with paper, cloth, glue, beads, or anything that might be used for creative projects, contact Megan Bowling at the High School. I am sure that she and the students will be able to put your cast-offs to good use!

Over the coming month I will share updates about my progress. When I am not ashamed of the mess, I will begin posting photos. For now, there is not much to see, other than boxes and stacks of stuff. Expect another update in a week or so- hopefully by then I can share a photo of the empty room.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Who Controls the Ocean

This morning I was reminded that God could speak to us in his own way and in his own time. I was awakened from one of the best night's sleep that I have in a very long time by a dream. I have no doubt that it was God speaking to me.

In the dream, Glenn and I were talking about how our life just wasn't the same now that the kids were grown. We were reminiscing about the trips that we had taken, the little things that we had done as a family, and all the things that the two of us had planned for our family to do when the children were growing up. We also discussed how the times that we do spend with the kids is different and how much of that time is spent helping them work through their first real "adult" things rather than enjoying experiences. We also talked about our own lives and how more of time is being spent on the daily struggles of life, rather than relaxation and down time.

In the last scene of the dream I said, "It just isn't fun anymore. It is like we are just bobbers floating on an ocean." It was then that I heard a voice in the dream say, "But remember who controls the ocean." At that instant I was awakened.

A Bobber? How in the world did my slumbering mind come up with that? I am not now, nor have I ever been a fisherman. Sure, when I was little I went fishing a time or two with my grandfather, but I definitely did not take an affinity to it. Besides, we don't normally fish in an ocean either, so why did the voice mention that?

Looking back now, I think that I was being my usual self- worrying about my children and their stability as well as our own personal stresses that life throws at us. Kari has just gone back to college to begin her sixth semester and she is sure to encounter more turmoil and stress. She has certainly had a lot of that during the first five! Keenan has just completed his first full year of "adulthood", having graduated college and found his first full-time stable job. Yet, he has already been in this new "adult world" long enough to have his eyes opened to some of the many issues that adults must deal with. As for me, I still find my time being encroached upon by things like debt and personal obligations. I suppose that I do often feel like a bobber floating away on the surface of the water, just waiting for that time when I can actually grasp back control.

And then there is the voice...... the voice reminding me who it is that controls those waters of life. It is so easy to forget that God is always there. He truly is the one in control. In Isaiah 41:10 it says,

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

That voice in my dream was God speaking to me, reassuring me that I do not need to fear or worry about the storms of life. Yes, we will be tumbled and tossed, yes there are times when we may even feel ourselves being pulled down below the surface, but God can calm those waters and restore our lives to a more stable feeling. He is the one who controls the ocean of life and I just need to remember to seek him out and call upon his name!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

Hello again!

I wanted to take a minute to share a couple of projects that I have finished in the last month or two. This week I started working on a sewing project for a customer and suddenly found myself with a sewing machine that wasn't cooperating. Tomorrow, Glenn is going to take it to the repair shop so I can get it fixed and then get back to work. (Don't you hate it when you are ready to get your craft on and something goes wrong?)

Finding myself without a sewing machine, I spent some time crocheting. A customer had recently requested a stuffed cow. I had not attempted this particular animal, but I knew I could give it a shot. I was really pleased with the results, though I do wish that I had a craft store nearby where I could find a tiny cowbell to hang around her neck.

I have also started the process of sorting and purging my craft supplies. I posted a bunch of stamps on a website, but have only sold one set so far. I am hoping that I can get rid of some more because I know I need the space and it will also give me less stuff to sort through when I redo my craft room.

I could use some inspiration as far as organizing goes..... so..... if any of you are very good "spacial" thinkers who love to organize things and/or play around with interior design, I am very open to suggestions! You can refer me to a website, share pics, or..... come on by and help me clear out and redo!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Clearing Out

I have just begun the process of sorting through my crafting materials, in preparation for emptying out and reorganizing my craft space. We took my daughter back to college yesterday and, before she left, I asked if it would be ok for me to use her bedroom as the "parking area" for all of my stuff temporarily.

Though I am looking forward to having a finished, organized space where I can locate my materials and actually make things, I am not looking forward to the sorting/purging process. Over the years I have accumulated a LOT of stuff! At the time that I bought each item I am sure that I really felt I had a need for it, but now..... not so much.

It suddenly hit me today that our life can be the same way. We go through life and try a lot of things, accumulating habits, friends, and stuff. At the time, we felt we really needed them I am sure, but along the way we grow, mature, and goals change. Sometimes we need to stop and sort through things- getting rid of the things that no longer help us achieve the goal before us. We may really enjoy checking Facebook regularly to see what is going on in the lives of others, but if it is keeping us from spending time in God's word or with family, then we need to consider purging that habit. If we have a friend who is negative about things constantly, belittling others for their efforts, purposes it is time to consider spending less time with that person, while praying for them MORE. 

I told you in my last post that my word for the year is "conscious". I guess that I have just been becoming more conscious of what I spend my time doing. I am trying to be more deliberate with the things that I allow to fill my calendar- less time on things like television and computers and more time reading and studying the Bible, praying, and really BEING with those who matter. I think we could all benefit from that!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Five Minute Friday- Connect

This week's word for Five Minute Friday is Connect and it is so appropriate! Ready...... here I go!

Since I have retired I noticed that I spend a lot of my time feeling disjointed and separated from everyone that I typically assoicate with. Even when I am visiting with my teacher friends, I somehow feel like I do not really belong there. I have also noticed that I have lost some of my connection with God. It is because of this that I selected my word for the year- CONSCIOUS.

My goal is to be to more conscious about what I spend my time on, actually being deliberate in my choices. I have set aside time each morning to connect with God through Bible reading. I am participating in a chronological read-through along with several other women on Facebook. I am reading and praying over God's word and trying to allow him to speak to me during this time.

I am also trying to be more conscious when I am with friends and family. I want to really BE PRESENT and connect with them- not just spend time with them. I want our time together to be valuable for both them and me, actually helping to strengthen our personal connections.

Lastly, I am being more conscious about my money. I am working diligently to pay down some of our debt that has accumulated over the years. I will make a little extra money each month by substitute teaching and I am setting that aside to go straight toward some of that debt. I have created a spreadsheet on the computer and I am tracking progress each month in order to help me further be conscious of my progress and to give myself some encouragement. Because I know that I also will want to spend a little, I have made a separate account for my "play" money. This is money that I started saving last year from my crochet and crafting hobby. I am adding to that whenever I make a sale, small though it may be. When the time is right, I plan to reward myself by taking some of that money and using it to redo my craft space, in the hopes that I can be more productive with my hobby and that I can reconnect with my creative side, something that has suffered in the past few years.

I hope to update everyone via this blog on a regular basis and use it to help make me accountable for my personal progress. Please come back and stay in touch. Check in to see how I am doing and give me a pat on the back or a word of chastisement, whichever might be appropriate. I would also love to hear your word for the year, if you choose to share.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Out With the Old.... In With the New

Every year it happens... December 31 rolls around and people say to themselves, "The new year will be different." Resolutions are made and goals are set. Unfortunately, it doesn't take very long for those goals to get set aside and forgotten.

This time last year I did much the same. I was looking ahead to June of 2016 and retirement, knowing that this major life event would change my life and begin my next adventure. It was about this same time when I discovered something online called a "temperature blanket". In a nutshell, people would set up a color spectrum to represent temperature ranges and would use that spectrum to create a unique blanket representing the yearly temperatures for a given area.  Knowing that I would have some extra time on my hands and wanting to try something new, I decided to give it a go.

I created my spectrum, purchased my yarn, located a website where I could get daily temperatures for my area and set about the task of creating my own work of art. Within a month or two, my blanket was growing and so was my excitement. I decided that I wanted to make this project into my own service project. (More about that later.)

I kept up my crocheting and yesterday, January 1, I found myself putting in the marathon task of finishing off the blanket. With each stitch I found myself thinking back over 2016 and the things that I had faced during the year. I also found myself looking forward to 2017 and what I planned for it. (Check back later in the week to find out about those plans.)

First, allow me to introduce you to the temperature blanket for 2016, Booneville, KY:

The blanket is made of 2 panels. The first panel simply displays the year and a "thermometer" gauge that shows my color spectrum. The other panel contains 390 squares. Each square represents the average daily temperature for Booneville, KY. Temperatures were obtained from an online data chart from the OCHS WeatherBug. The white squares separate the months.

Some of the squares contain tiny "emblems" representing the major holidays. (Here you can see the Halloween witch hat and the Christmas tree.) The finished blanket is truly a one of a kind piece!

Now.... back to how this blanket becomes part of a service project.

As I was working on this blanket I really came to enjoy what I was doing. I looked forward to checking the temperatures each morning, crocheting the block, and seeing how the blanket progressed. I was having so much fun with the project that I knew I wanted to continue making these blankets each year, but I was not sure what I would do with them. I certainly couldn't keep them all!

Surely someone out there had some reason to think of 2016 as "special" or "meaningful". Maybe a baby was born that year. Maybe they experienced a milestone life event: marriage, graduation, or milestone birthday. Whatever the reason, surely someone would see the unique meaning behind this blanket and want to welcome it into their home.

It was then that an idea struck! With retirement I would be leaving the Owsley County School System, but I wanted to maintain my contact with it, because it had been such a large part of my life. What if I donated the finished blanket to a school group to auction off?

Well.... the blanket is done and the time has come to decide which group gets the blanket.  I want to donate the blanket to a group from Owsley County High School who needs the proceeds and is willing to do whatever work is necessary to get the funds. I know from personal experience that some groups already do a lot of fundraising or have a flow of money from other funds or sources. The group can be a club or organization or it could be an actual class such as the freshemen, sophomores, etc.

In order to make that decision, I want YOUR help. I am asking you to tell me which group you think I should donate the blanket to and why that group is deserving.  I will take suggestions through next Monday, January 9. At that time, my family and I will read through all of the suggestions and will ultimately decide which group will receive the blanket. I look forward to reading through all of the comments. Feel free to share this blog post with others so they can also make suggestions. Sometimes there is power in numbers!

Oh...... just in case you are wondering.... I already have my yarn for the 2017 blanket and I am ready to begin work on it today!