Christmas Movies Already

It’s October and I opted for a cheesy Christmas movie instead of one filled with witches, ghosts, or vampires. I think I like Christmas movies so much because they’re warmhearted, bring the whole family together, and often have a little lesson on attitude, love, or living life with gratitude.

Today’s Christmas movie was about a middle child who wakes up after the worst Christmas day to find he has to repeat it on a loop. He starts out changing some moments in somewhat selfish capacities, so that he either wins a game, gets the present he wanted, the meal he prefers, etc. Then he has a change of heart of spends each day trying to make it better and better for his family and neighbors. It ends being the best Christmas.

I’m easily inspired and tear up during touching moments in movies and sometimes even books. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder to remember how incredibly #blessed I am. There’s no doubt this movie was cheesy and a little slow at times, but I found it somewhat relatable and enjoyed the sentiment.

The greatest gifts in life are treasured memories. It’s so easy to tell a person how they mean or laugh while sharing old stories. Just take the time. My favorite parts of Christmas are the traditions. Putting up the tree, decorating the house, making dozens and dozens of different Christmas cookies, going to Christmas eve mass, and eating the same meal on my mother’s china.

A Little Self Awareness Brought Me A Long Way

I’m afraid I’m a bit rusty, but I’ve been meaning to get back to my neglected blog. So often I sit to blog and can’t bring myself to hit publish, as if my words don’t mean enough, can’t inspire, lack conviction, or might offend. The question becomes do I treat my blog like a journal or am I writing because I actually have something to say, that I hope is worth passing along? This brings me to my topic of choice tonight: self awareness.

Have you ever looked into the mirror and desperately wanted to know who you’re supposed be? I’ve always thought “If I don’t know where I’m going, how am I supposed to get there?” So I started at the beginning, where I am now.

When I started my job I took the Gallup Strengths test and received strengths-based coaching. My top five strengths were Responsibility, Strategic, Achiever, Discipline, Intellection. Basically my combination of strengths means I take ownership, have drive and vision, as well as the discipline to follow through. I’ve always been labeled as a perfectionist or over-achiever, so my ability to accomplish a task was not shocking. I did learn that because of my strength combinations it’s hard for me to trust others with responsibility because I am so used to having control, I can tend to “manage” people, I’m hard on myself, and I have a difficult time saying “no.” Now that I not only know what my true strengths are, but also know what they mean, I can work on improving them and managing the potential “side effects” that come along with them.

And now in interviews I can say my strengths are more than organization and time-management.

I recently took Gretchen Rubin’s quiz on the Four Tendencies ( Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, Rebels) and learned something new about myself. I’m an obliger. “Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. In other words, they work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down. Obligers may find it difficult to form a habit, because often we undertake habits for our own benefit, and Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves. For Obligers, the key to forming habits is to create external accountability.”

With what I previously mentioned about taking responsibility and not letting others down, it makes sense that I’m an obliger, rushing to meet the expectations of others, but failing to meet my own. Am I often unsure of where/who I want to be because I’m hard on myself?

Does that mean my inability to keep my New Year resolutions is just a part of who I am? Ha! Don’t worry, my external accountability partner (husband) is an exercise science nut and makes sure I hit the gym! In all seriousness it is hard for me to form new habits. I always assumed it was because I didn’t want it bad enough, but maybe it’s because I’m so focused on taking care of everyone else that when it comes down to it, I don’t have the energy left to worry about myself. Regardless, now that I know I have those tendencies I can reexamine my life and make sure I have the accountability I need to follow through on what’s important to me.

It’s ok to need help, and it’s ok to ask for it. Everyone is gifted with unique strengths and personalities. We were meant to need others.

A deeper understanding of who I am and what makes me tick has influenced how I set my goals and priorities, as well as how I respond to others. Because I am beginning to know who I am, I can start figuring out where I want to go and how to get there.

Community pours support into local ministry

Last night I attended the ninth annual Todd Becker Foundation Banquet. This was my second year in a row attending and I was once again amazed at the turnout. There were so many guests in attendance that an overflow room was necessary to keep from turning away supporters and people selflessly opened their checkbooks to make donations.

Arkansas state Governor Mike Huckabee spoke with humor and sincerity at last night’s banquet. He discussed how in biblical times fisherman preserved their catches by covering them in salt. Without the salt the fish would spoil. Today’s culture is the spoiling fish and Christians are the salt needed to keep the fish from spoiling. We can’t expect the fish to not spoil if we aren’t going to be an example. He then told a story about how people often think they are not significant or influential enough to make a difference or be a light in this world. When you are in pitch black even a tiny bit of light from your keychain or cellphone can light your path, keep you from stubbing your toe or help you find the keyhole. If one person lets their light shine they can lighten the darkness and if everyone lets their light shine the darkness can be diminished. 

Governor Huckabee’s speech supported the message Keith Becker and his team are delivering to high school students and community squares. Keith spoke at my high school when I was a seventh grader. Since then associations like the ACLU have been fighting to keep them out of high schools, but Keith and his team continue to tell the story of his brother Todd who went down the wrong path and died in a car accident as a senior in high school. 

Twitter Questions for Bloggers

I have neglected my blog for some time now and made a goal to post everyday over Christmas break.  I have already failed in meeting that goal, but I hope to have some posts for you to read in the near future.  I was tagged on Twitter to list 11 facts and answer the 11 questions given to me.  

My 11 Facts

1. I will graduate in May, having completed my undergrad in 3 years.

2. My favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark.

3. I decided to take some random classes and was amazed at how much I learned. (Gaming and Casino Management, Graphic Novels and next semester, Glass Blowing.

4. Whenever my parents have done a remodeling project I have picked out paint colors, fixtures, curtains, etc.  I love decorating, painting, looking at art, etc.  

5. I have a strong desire to travel.  I have been to Italy and France, with hopes of visiting every country in Europe.  In the U.S. I’ve been to 18 states.

6. My favorite place in the world is Winter Park, Colorado.  The mountains, skiing, and family memories make this place absolutely beautiful.

7. Throughout my senior year in high school until now I have wanted to pursue a career in all the following: lawyer, photojournalist, photographer, teacher, college professor, florist, travel agent, psychologist, advertising, public relations, marketing, restaurant or coffee shop owner/entrepreneur, chef, event planner, web designer, and probably more.  Right now I’m excited about the possibilities.

8. I want to live in a big city, but I’m terrified of driving in a big city.

9. I got married young (at 20).  It changed our social dynamics because we are at a different point in our life than most of our friends.

10. I appreciate growing up on a farm.  Harvest is a season and I love nothing more than riding in the combine with my daddy.

11. One of my favorite things about college has been brining home international students.  It’s so much fun watching them experience so many things for the first time and helping them get the most of their experience here.

11 Questions
1. What’s your favorite book character?  Why?
Daytripper. Bras de Oliva Domingos.  This character brought me back in time to different points in my life, like traveling, heartbreak, falling in love, losing a loved one, family time, and jobs. The book was truly a meditation on life and left me inspired and excited to live mine.

2. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
 Fly.
3. What’s your favorite ‘get to know someone new” question?
This is hard.  I love getting to know new people, especially from other regions of the country or world.  I ask a million questions and enjoy learning about their culture and thoughts on ours.
4. Would you ever consider a job that required an out of country relocation?
I absolutely think so, but I know I would miss my family so it would be a very tough decision.
5. What did you think you’d be as an adult when you were 8?
I wanted to be a nurse when I was 8.  For the next 4 years I wanted to be a teacher or an optometrist.
6. Now, what’s your dream job?
I would love a job that allows me to plan events.  Right now I’m really interested in a job in healthcare communication.

7. How long does it take you to get to work?

I’m currently not working.  I have traveled as far as 20-25 miles for a job.

 

8. What was your proudest moment thus far?
I’m very proud of graduating in 3 years. 
 
9. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
This is hard. I love to cook and bake.  I love making lasagna (I have a special recipe) and crockpot recipes.  I also enjoy making donuts. 
10. Android or iOS?
 iOS.
11. What’s the last thing you said out loud?
“Bye. Love you!”
 

If I Shot A Lion…

Imagine a girl who walks into a pet store and freezes at the door.  She’d rather wait outside, but is drug past the threshold.  Arms stretched across her body, she clutches on to her own skin for dear life.  Any sign of movement makes her skittish.  After all, that giant snake in the corner could break the glass cage and slither loose ready to eat her whole.  That’s not even taking into account all the moving creatures that could bite or the scaly ones that crawl.

Now lets name that girl.  We can call her Amanda.  As a child she would catch stray kittens on her farm, feed them some milk, name them Fluffy, Snowball, and Reese’s, and get ringworm from playing with the mangy things.  That must have been a stage, one of those stages you grow out of quickly.  She’s now a rock person.  The very thought of animal hair, slimy or scaly creatures, creepy crawlers, and being licked or bit is more than enough to make her not just hate animals, but almost fear them.

As you can tell, I’m not an animal rights activist.  I of course have witnessed man’s best friend, the soothing comfort of therapy animals, the much needed and guide animals.  Then there are animals raised to provide food and the creatures that help with the production of crops and the life chain.  I’ve also been to a zoo and fallen in love with the playful penguins, from a distance of course.  So why then did it upset me when I read news articles about Melissa Bachman killing a lion.

First off, I’m not upset that she killed a lion.  I initially thought it was pretty cool actually.  One of my friends is saving up for a big hunt in Africa and even the crazy uncles in Secondhand Lions thought it would be cool to kill a lion.  Melissa just didn’t have a boy named Walter to convince her to turn the lion into a pet.

To me hunting is natural.  We go out and shoot deer, quail, pheasant, turkey, and rabbit and make a meal out of it.  Then there are animals like coon, that you shoot for the fur and the list goes on.  I’ve touched bear skin rugs and seen several dead animals mounted on walls as trophies.  A lion?  Seems like the ultimate trophy, doesn’t it?

I read “Killing a Lion is the most cowardly thing you can do” and learned that hunting a lion is like shooting your sleeping grandma.  They mostly lie there and do nothing.  It didn’t sound thrilling at all.  I’m not even going to get into the debate on whether or not it’s ok to kill exotic animals, endangered or not.  What seriously upset me were some people’s reactions to this hunt.

The International Business Times” posted an article talking about how Melissa Bachman is being viciously attacked on Twitter.  People are calling her names, saying they wish she would get her head blown off, and even that they would pay to watch a lion rip her apart.  These people read a few articles about how “simple” it is to kill a lion and all of the sudden know that this woman is nothing but a terrible killer who deserves to die a painful death.  Seriously?

Are these same people trying to stop all hunters from gaining access to Africa?  Or just the well-known ones like Melissa?  Are they doing anything to help preserve these exotic species or the ones that are endangered?  Are they against all hunting in general?  Do they get upset when people mount bears, cougars, zebras, and gazelle?

She killed a lion and oh my gosh the world is going to end.  She paid a lot of money to go hunt in Africa and probably even more if she brought her lion back to the U.S.  I think I’d take a picture and post it on Facebook and Twitter too.

Waiting for an Uncertain Future

My mind has recently been consumed with thoughts of how the future is uncertain.  Sure I could give you past examples where this has played a role in my life, but none of those compare to the fear and uncertainty that approaching graduation makes me feel.  Don’t get me wrong I am beyond excited and also relieved to be so close to finishing.  After all I have been racing to get done in three years so that I can graduate and move with my husband as he plans to continue school.  

I frequent job search websites and see new possibilities everyday with careers I have never considered or really even been aware of before.  Then the qualifications leave me wishing I had the 2-7 years of necessary experience that is required.  Overwhelming thoughts of not finding a job, being able to pay bills, and becoming a homeless person leave me dreading applications, interviews, and the waiting game.  

I like to think a college education will be enough to help me succeed.  Then I’m reminded of my husband who is depending on acceptance to physical therapy school, which is necessary for him to become a pt, something he has been dead set on since junior high or early high school.  He has worked so hard for this.  He even took physics 1 and 2 BOTH this summer so that he could meet the prerequisites and they could be on his transcript before he even applied.  Physics 2 meant a month’s journey to South Korea because it wasn’t going to be offered on UNK’s campus.  

When he got back he filled out the application and had to wait for his transcript to be mailed from Hanyang University.  The deadline was approaching and he was pretty stressed.  Finally it came and he added it to the application and was able to submit it to the schools.  Today he received an email from one of the school’s saying it wasn’t on his application and he couldn’t be considered without taking this class, even though it’s on the one that he printed right after hitting the submit button.  I’m sure this problem can be resolved, but it’s discouraging and stressful to take the steps to do everything in your power to make yourself and good candidate to have anything stand in your way.  

My future is dependent on where his future takes us and his future is dependent on being accepted, and I’m ok with that.  The uncertainty is tough though, as is being patient, which has never really been my strong suit.

Places to Call Home

I grew up on a farm outside of the middle of nowhere and this place remained my home until I ventured to college.  I’m not going to ramble on about what it meant to call this place home because that’s a post in itself, but I will say that when I refer to home, that’s still the place I’m talking about.

My parents helped me carry my million boxes up six flights of stairs to my dorm room.  I will admit I cried a little that night as I laid in bed afraid of falling off my loft because the bar wasn’t attached, worried about “catching cancer” because the ceiling paint was chipping off onto my blankets and I was told the ceilings were still asbestos, and the street lamps were shining in the open window.  How was I going to live there for a whole year if I couldn’t even sleep there for one night?!  I spent many nights at my brother’s house because he at least had a kitchen to walk into, a coach to sit on, and even a doorbell to ring.

Then I got married.  We moved into the university apartments because we thought we could save money on rent while going to college.  We have a kitchen table, a tv, desk, love seat, and a bed, squeezed into a space smaller than my little sister’s room at home.  Our dish rack and a coffee machine will fit on our counter, while the blender, mixer, and George Forman sit in boxes.  I am a Pampered Chef consultant, so I can’t even begin to describe how much kitchen stuff I have in boxes at home that aren’t getting used because I don’t have a kitchen.  The oven is so tiny only the smallest sized sheet pan will fit.  We can’t even bake pizza on a pan or lasagna, my favorite meal.  

I keep telling myself it’s only temporary and that it’s a place to start, at least we probably won’t ever do worse than this.  Older people tell us we will look back on this and laugh and then they laugh and tell us to take pictures so we can always remember it.  But I don’t think I could forget this place.  I won’t forget what the place looked like when we moved in and how much we cleaned before I would even take my shoes off.  I won’t forget that the windows are so old that when it rains it leaks in and runs down the wall.  I won’t forget when our air conditioner leaked water and we called maintenance and they used our trash can to empty dirty water and then left it hanging over the toilet.  I probably won’t forget when our bathroom sink clogged and it took them hours to fix because when they tried to unclog it, it shot out our neighbors sink.  Or when our sink filled with dirty water because they flushed the pipes and our apartment is the last one on the block, getting everybody’s gross, disgusting, filthy water.  We also had a hole in our ceiling from July to October because they had to get to a pipe above us and were too busy to come back.  When they finally did they screwed a piece of tin over the whole and painted over it white.  The tin standed out just as much as the fresh white coat does against the 100 year old off white.  Our bathroom has no vent, so when we shower the ceiling gets wet and forms mold.  The drywall in the bedroom is literally falling apart, leaving dust.  When the people above us moved out, the cleaning ladies were mopping and the dirty mop water seeped through the cracks between the wall and the floor and rained into our apartment.  I vacuum up dead bugs and cry when I see a live one.  And during the heat of the summer, our apartment got hotter than it was outside, but there was nothing maintenance could do because we are the last apartment on the block.  It’s cold water running through a pipe with air blowing on it, so they can’t do anything if the water isn’t cold by the time it gets to us.

These buildings will get torn down in a few years, so they can build all new because it’s more cost efficient than remodeling.  I know it’s our own fault for trying to save money, but it baffles me that the place is literally falling apart and no repairs are being made to make it any more livable, yet my rent goes up.  

I’m ready to start packing and let me tell you once that day comes I will have everything ready to go out this door in an hour.  I’m not sure if I will look back and laugh or cry tears of joy that we got the hell out of here.  Either way I’ve learned one thing, home is not a physical place, it’s where you feel safe and loved, it’s where you share life with those you love.  Whether it gets better or worse or worse before it gets better, I will try to remain positive and remember I am starting and ending my days with my best friend and soul mate. 

It’s amazing what you see when you are on the other side

I recently got a job at a not-so-fast-food food place.  It’s my first job in the restaurant business and it has been an interesting experience and I have gained some new insight. When going to restaurants, whether fast food or sit down, or even when shopping I have found myself thinking about how slow the service is, how easy it should be to get an order right, how rude, unhelpful, or unavailable some of the employees can be, and the list goes on.  Now I’m on the other side of things and have made some generalizations.

1) Sometimes people are just learning and won’t be a pro.  Other times people just make mistakes.

2) If you want fresh food, made fresh, you will have to wait for it to be made.  That might take a couple seconds.

3) People will find the littlest things to complain about and some will do so in hopes of getting a free meal.

4) Some people are naturally rude and their day’s mission is to make you feel inadequate.

5) People are in a hurry and it causes them to throw etiquette and manners out the window.

 

These days people treat marriage like its a piece of paper that can be torn up and burnt.  It’s a certificate that when you get angry or realize you have differences or meet someone else, you can just “unsign” and pretend it never happened.  But that’s not marriage, that’s divorce, and divorce is something I don’t believe in.

In recent months I have watched my grandparents celebrate 50 years together and my parents 25.  I have witnessed laughter, loving glances, tender embraces, serious conversations, playful arguments, sadness, heated moments, and many “I’m sorry’s.”  As anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, it takes kindness, patience, forgiveness, and trust to make any relationship not only work, but last.

Many would say that I’ve always been in a hurry to grow up.  I was engaged my freshman year of college and married my high school sweetheart at the age of 20.  I’ve listened to my friends say things like “I can’t imagine being married right now” and “Kiss your freedom goodbye.”  Strangers and acquaintances like to say things like “What?! You’re married?!  How old are you?!” and then they proceed to ask questions about education, careers, money, etc. as if all those things have to come before marriage.  My favorite comments are the Facebook posts like “All my classmates are getting married and having babies and I’m over here…….”

Each person’s future timeline is going to be different.   Some think my life would be easier if I would have waited until I had a degree, a nice job, and a new car before I decided to get married. But I find happiness in starting each day with my best friend, coming home from a bad day and having someone to cheer me up, having someone to share exciting moments with.  I’m lucky enough to get to go through life with the support, encouragement, and love of someone who will be by my side through all of the changes, big steps, trials, shortcomings, and adventures.

I love being married and I wouldn’t have wanted to wait another day.  “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part”  is a promise I know I will keep, and I know  this because I chose the right person to make this promise to.

I grew up standing on the side of the road holding a sign that said, “Respect Life.”  I don’t remember how old I was when I started.  Maybe not old enough to understand the complexity of life or pregnancy or freedom of choice, but I was old enough to understand what abortion is.  

Each year a group from my church would attend the Life Chain.  We would hold signs with positive messages about life, not the ones that scream “Abortion is Murder.”  As we stood in the usually cold weather, praying, and standing up for our beliefs we watched as people drove by and honked, waved, gave thumbs up, yelled, flipped us off, and shouted obscenities.  

Browsing my Twitter today I noticed the hashtag #IfAbortionIsntMurderThenWhy.  One of the people I’m following had retweeted “Why is this even trending?”  So I thought it would be people saying ridiculous things, but when I looked I liked what I found.

Some of the posts were “#IfAbortionIsntMurderThenWhy… “do doctors have to kill it,” “a miscarriage mean the baby died,” and my personal favorite which started this “I think we should get something trending that’s actually relevant like #IfAbortionIsntMurderThenWhy or something like that. Anyone with me??”

So to answer the question “Why is this even trending?” It’s trending because it’s important and people care enough to stand up for their beliefs. Gay marriage and abortion have been popular topics in today’s political world. People are no longer thinking about what is right, what is humane, and they certainly aren’t chanting “What would Jesus do?” Instead it has become all about freedom of choice.