Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Love to read . . .

This last weekend, I had a few moments to read and my book of choice was The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Earlier in the summer I read one of his other books (Island of Saints)and loved it so I went to the Hoover library and checked out The Noticer for our weekend at the beach. There is nothing like sitting in a chair on the beach, soaking up some sun and reading a good book. Now my husband would disagree with that!!

Jones is one of the main characters in the book and he has some wonderful nuggets of wisdom. They are those statements that make you stop and think about your own life and what is truly important. Here are a few of them:

“Remember, what you focus on increases.” (p. 13)
“It’s time to stop letting your history control your destiny.” (p. 13)
“People are either in a crisis, coming out of one, or headed for one.” (p. 31)
“Worry is just imagination used in an unproductive way.” (p. 51) -- HOW TRUE!!
“Wisdom is the ability to see the future consequences of our choices.” (p. 65)
“It takes wisdom to discern that oh-so-thin line between good and best.” (p. 65)
“Many of life’s treasures remain hidden because we never search for them.” (p. 83) I NEED TO START SEARCHING!!
“If you are still here, then you have not completed your life’s purpose.” (p. 83)
“Big stuff is made up of small stuff, so you better sweat the small stuff!” (p. 103)
“We often judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their actions.” (p. 111) THIS ONE SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE!!
“If you want folks to believe in you, then it really helps if they like you.” (p. 136)
“Life is a little like dessert. Keep your fork; the best is yet to come!” (p. 149)
“In desperate times, much more than anything else, folks need perspective.” (p. 154)

I've added my notes in all caps. I really recommend this book. What books have you read recently that you would recommend? I love to hear what other folks are reading.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where is Ball State, Hayden?

On Thursday, we drove to Orange Beach and met two other couples and had a glorious long weekend. The weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful time. Thought I would share a little of the weekend . . .

Mark and I left Hoover around 8:00 on Thursday morning and stopped first at Durbin's - got a cute "Happy Fall Y'all" metal sign and then drove on to Priester's where we purchased some fiddle sticks (which melted and became one fiddlestick!). Those are two of our favorite stops every time we go to the beach. We always try to leave Birmingham early enough to arrive in Gulf Shores in time for a late lunch at The Original Oyster House. We love to eat there! The seafood is always good and the prices are reasonable and they have a wonderful salad bar.

This was the view from our table.
After a delicious lunch, Mark dropped me off at the liquor and grocery store and he went to pick up the key. With bucket of Margaritas and Tequila in hand, off we went to Four Seasons.

I spent most of my first afternoon by the pool.
I don't think I have ever been so "sun deficient." I felt as if I were a sponge soaking up those warm glorious rays. Mark and I both love the sun.

Everyone else arrived in the afternoon and we enjoyed chatting and visiting. We decided to walk across the road to Cotton's for dinner. Not our best dining experience at the beach. I guess that Mark took this picture while I was in the bathroom!
It was interesting though. You've heard the old rule, "No shirt, no shoes, no service?" Well, I know we were at the beach but there was an old guy in the restaurant with an incredibly long scraggly beard and no shoes! I wonder who he was?? We walked back across the four lane road to the condos and tried (not very successfully) to replicate a picture that Phella had cut out of a magazine.

On Friday, there was a very brief rain shower early in the morning and then there was a beautiful rainbow.

The rest of the day was gorgeous and much time was spent on the pier,
by the pool, in the pool and on the beach.

Happy hour was enjoyed by all.

Friday night, we decided to go to The Original Oyster House. It is amazing to me that this is "off season" and there was still an hour wait for a table. We all walked around to the back and the guys fed the fish and we had a stranger take our picture.
We three girls then proceeded to check out the merchandise in the little shops and we found a bench to rest on.
We had no idea where the guys were. About that time, Mark showed up.
They had been sitting at the bar in the restaurant having a drink and chatting with the bartender about crazy drinks and watching two drunk guys! This picture is of "our" guys, not the drunk guys!!
Mark hung out with us on the bench for a few minutes and our buzzer finally went off. On the way home from the restaurant (I probably shouldn't tell this!!) we started singing old tv show theme songs in the car - The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island!

I awakened early Saturday morning and knew that Mark would already be on the pier fishing so I took the camera and a diet pepsi and walked down to be greeted by a lovely sunrise.

Morning was spent on the beach and in the pool once again soaking up those wonderful rays.

Hayden and I both spent some time reading this weekend. He was reading the newest John Grisham book and I read The Noticer by Andy Andrews and started on a James Patterson book.
I think I saw Guy and Phella reading in the shade on the porch one afternoon.

For those of you who know Mark, you know he doesn't enjoy reading. His hobbies include hunting and fishing and exercise. When I saw him holding this magazine, which Jan handed him, I just had to take his picture. Too funny!!

The guys had caught enough flounder and snapper for one meal so we decided to have our "big meal" in the middle of the day and eat snack stuff during the Auburn football game. Mark fried the fish rolled in potato flakes - if you've never tried it, it makes the most wonderful light crust. You can see Guy and Mark cooking in the background and Hayden and Phella enjoying some conversation.
The food was all yummy!! Jan cooked apples and she also cooked spaghetti squash. Guy was the sous chef!! I think Mark needed some help. Frying fish and timing it just right is difficult and Mark actually cut his finger while cleaning the fish. Jan "doctored" on his finger!! These were our drugs of choice for the weekend!
Hayden and I were sitting across the counter from them pretending that we were watching a cooking show. This is our "view" of the chefs.

I know we are crazy . . . what can I say?

Phella, Jan and I spent the cloudy afternoon at the Tanger Outlets and we each found some great bargains. We also crammed Jan into a teeny tiny children's car and took her picture. Yes, we are grown women but we like to have fun.

Our last night at the beach was spent watching Auburn football and eating fun snacks - teeny tiny turkey sandwiches and sausage/cream cheese/rotel dip and sliced cheese and crackers and watermelon . . . you get the point. I'm not sure this picture of Hayden and Guy washing dishes was taken that last night but they sure did a good job.

Now about the title for this blog. I believe it was Mark who asked Hayden multiple times, "Where is Ball State?" and before the night was over, we had all asked Hayden that same question. So . . . Hayden . . .where is Ball State?

A wonderful weekend was had by all and we give thanks for good friends!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rich? Who me?

I've been teaching from a book called Wasabi Gospel in our Sunday School class. This week's lesson title was "Rich people go straight to hell, do not pass go" and the scripture was from Mark chapter 10 verses 24 and 25. Just in case you don't want to look that up . . ."The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Most of us don't think we are rich. I paid about $13 or $14 for Wasabi Gospel at Cokesbury. Did you know that I paid more for a Sunday School book than people in AT LEAST 16 countries make in a week? I searched around on the internet and found this research from about two years ago - Did you know that assets of just $2,200 per adult place a household in the top half of the world's wealthiest? If you have more than $500,000 in assets (I looked up assets just to verify. Assets are everything of value owned by a person - cars, cameras, tv's, home, vacation home, boats, jet skis), you are part of the richest 1% in the world. That is mind boggling to me.

Back to the scripture. I had always heard that the "eye of the needle" was a gate in ancient Jerusalem and in order for a large camel to pass through, he would have to be relieved of his burdens and get down on his knees and thus rich people have to get rid of their stuff and get on their knees, etc. But I read in three different commentaries that Jesus liked to make jokes to get his point across. Jesus evidently meant a sewing needle (greek word). Imagine a big old lumpy camel trying to get through the eye of a needle.

As I continued reading and lumped myself into that rich category, I became a little agitated. I found this quote on-line, "Rich people are not worried about where their next meal is coming from; they worry about what it will taste like and what the setting will be. Rich people are not concerned about whether they will have shelter and clothing to wear; they are taken up with fashion and style and decor and whether they are living in the right neighborhood or not or whether or not they are wearing the right name brand. The possession of riches shifts a person's concern from the elementary, necessary things to the complex, secondary things." Once again, that makes me fall into that rich category.

So what are we to do? We are rich. We really are. If you are reading this, you are rich. So what are we to do? Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to ENJOY them, to accept his lot and be HAPPY in his work - this is a gift of God." 1 Timothy 6:17 says, "Command those who are rich in the present world (that's us - we are rich, remember?) not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." DON'T put our HOPE in wealth but in GOD!!

The author of Wasabi Gospel says, "Put your hope in God" is a great 401K plan. Hope in God is a plan that does not depreciate and is never uncertain. The guaranteed return is a life that Jesus gives us."

All we have and all we are comes from God himself. We can never give up anything to God except what we have already received from him.

So, this week my middle-aged mind is whirring round and round as I think about being rich. I've never felt "rich" (in money) before. I grew up in a blue collar home in a small house. Now I compare myself to others who have so much more, so I think that I'm not rich. I do know that I am very rich and very blessed with good friends and a loving family. After studying this lesson, I guess I'm rich monetarily also. Wow - and it is hard for a rich (wo)man to get into heaven . . . like a camel through the eye of a sewing needle. I'm still thinking about this one.

Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for scripture that makes us think and challenges us.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Curtains and my son . . .

What in the world do chocolate chip cookies, curtains and my son have in common . . . well, as a middle-aged mom, I don't "get" to bake cookies every week and do those "fun" things with my kids like when they were little BUT TODAY I "get" to drive to Auburn (and am thrilled to be invited) to help Glenn find some sort of window coverings for his bedroom. He is living in a little house basically in the parking lot of an older United Methodist congregation. I believe the church members have been seeing way too much of Glenn through his uncovered bedroom windows ;-)

So the plan is to leave here later this morning and drive to Auburn. Last night, Mark said, "I can't believe you aren't in the kitchen baking something to take to Glenn." I just looked at him. You see, the last two work weeks have almost killed me - crazy busy - thank God I work in a place and with people that I love. Thank God that I actually love my job . . .most days! So back to baking. I got up this morning and whipped out the package of chocolate chips and mixed up a batch of toll house cookies. They are on a plate ready to go to Auburn. (I intended to insert a picture of those beautiful cookies but couldn't find the digital camera . . .called Mark (it is his "hunting and fishing" camera . . . and it is with him at work!! So instead of chocolate chip cookies you get a picture of middle aged us with our wonderful young adult children) So you just have to imagine . . . There is a lovely yellow dish towel on my kitchen counter with a crisp white dinner plate tilted every so slightly for a better photograph . . .filled with yummy toll house cookies!!
So in a little while, I will get to be a "mommy" again - sharing cookies with Glenn and helping him search for some window treatments at the local Walmart! Mark loaded my car with the cordless drill, a measuring tape, drill bits and a hammer. Here is a picture of Glenn and his girlfriend, Lauren in front of this little house - home for three semesters! If you look closely, you can see the red brick of the church in the background - told you it was close to the church!Laura is going down tomorrow for the game and I know that she will be happy to be back down on the "plains." Both Glenn and Laura are doing well in grad school and working . . .life is definitely different around our house. Who knew? Who knew that someday I would be a middle aged mom . . . with grown children? Wow - what a blessing!