Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Babies/My Resolutions

We arrived safely home from Michigan last night.... and we were all happy to get home.  The kids mostly because they hadn't yet had their "Christmas" with me... so they had presents waiting.  The only present I had waiting was a bath and my bed- which was more than enough.  :-)

One of the highlights of the trip was having my cousin Rhonda photograph the kids (and me).  It was alot of fun and she did a great job.  The pic above made us laugh....  and laughter is the best medicine.  Okay, so I just thought I'd throw in a tired little cliche there.  But frankly... it would be be hard to argue that it isn't true.

Though the last few years have been decidedly difficult in many ways... some how through all of it... I emerged again.... me.... Brenda.  The girl I have missed SO much.  I thought she was dead, to be honest.  But she's very much alive!  She laughs so hard she pees her pants (okay, that is a new development.... last time I saw her, she hadn't birthed three babies- ha ha).  That's the part I like the most about her- she laughs alot.   

What's awesome- and can only be the working of the Divine... is that she has actually emerged in a more beautiful form... like a butterfly (she loves tired cliches, too).  :-)  She is stronger, more hopeful, more sure of who she is.  It's nice.

[I will now stop talking in third person]

So it's that time of the year when we kind-of look back and see where we've been and we look forward to a clean slate - this year we call it 2012- and we dream about where we will go.  Here's some of my thoughts on this subject.

My New Years Resolutions:

-Have fun with my kids, laugh with them, turn their frowns upside down
-Use more cliches
-Seek ways to serve- anticipate an incredible opportunity from God this year
-Listen for God's voice EVERY day and go with Him wherever He goes
-Finally finish up my second journey through the bible
-Figure out a way to "off" the dog and make it look like an accident
-LOSE WEIGHT, EAT LESS, EXERCISE MORE (this is a mandatory resolution, but I really, really, really, really would like to end 2012 about 50 pounds lighter).  If Brenda is back, she should have her old body back, as well.  Just sayin'.
-Depend on God's amazing power (grace) to accomplish things I never thought possible
-Get out more (say "yes" to invites more often than I say "no")
-Make that pile of clothes at The Saving Way disappear... turn it into the cash it is waiting to be... to help a cause I believe in strongly.

I love God.... I just went to Biblegateway to find a verse to end on and their "verse of the day" is the verse God has been using to speak to me many, many times over the past 3-4 years. I could not accept it when he first spoke it to me... I did not want to forget the "former things", nor did I feel excited about anything new God might be doing. I wanted Egypt, frankly. And  I actually thought it a little harsh for him to hit me with this when I had not yet had time to come to terms with what I had lost, much less grieve for it... so I wrote the verse down, added my commentary, which was "No, I do not perceive it!" and tucked it away, knowing God's voice when I hear it and figuring it would mean more to me later.  Does it!!!!  It means everything.

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:16-19

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wee Hours

It's the wee hours of the morning.  I woke up coughing, which woke the dog, who decided he needed to go potty, which meant I had to get up and let him out, which didn't make me happy.  The coughing is not good and I'm afraid I am allergic to my job.  :-(  I haven't coughed like this since last Spring during allergy season- and at that time, the doctor said I had bronchitis.

So I dug around for the cough medicine I was prescribed and found it, noticing the date it was filled.... April 27, 2011.  Here in Huntsville, that was the day of the bad tornadoes.  I had gone to the doctor that day in between storms.  What was really good, as there was virtually no waiting- everyone else was at home in their safe place.  My x-rays revealed lots of "gunk" in my lungs and I was given four or five prescriptions, which I took to the pharmacy. 

And then I went home, assuming I would pick up the prescriptions in an hour or so when I went back out.  I was wrong about that.  I spent the next couple hours in the laundry room with four kids and a dog (had an extra kid that day).  Tornadoes devatated our area and left us all without power- and my pharmacy closed.

The next morning (Sarah's birthday!), I ventured out amidst the uprooted trees, damaged fences, and the roof of the Wendy's now in their parking lot.... and found a line at the pharmacy, so I got in it.  They were allowing one customer at a time into the store.  Bigger stores, like Publix, had already brought in generators, but the drug store I had chosen was completely without power.  I waited about an hour, made friends with the others in line (I always find the comraderie in these situations to be something special) and then was only able to get a couple of my prescriptions because they could only accept cash, and with the banks and ATMs without power, that left only what I happened to have in my wallet before the tornadoes.  I had to pick the ones that were most important... the antibiotic, the cough medicine perhaps.  I don't remember.

It felt more like a third-world country than America.  We don't wait in long lines to get our medicine and other necessities.  And who keeps cash around these days?  And who is as sick as I was and has to decide between their medicines?  We have programs for this kind of thing.  People don't go without needed medicines here.

So I sit here eight months later and wait for the cough medicine (i.e. codeine) to work its magic, and remember that day and the days that followed... we were without power for close to a week at my house.  I took the kids and fled to Nashville first (was given a discount at the hotel because we were refugees) and then to Kentucky to the loving arms of my dear friends, Beth and Nancy (where we got to stay for free and they even fed us).

And all of these memories flood back just by seeing a date on a medicine bottle at 4:00 in the morning.

And I can only sleep another hour now (sleep, please come back to me) because I have an early appointment with Tammy to get my nails done.  I've been missing my pretty nails and for some reason, this manual labor job I now have is making me want to find ways to feel feminine.  I end up with dirt under my fingernails every day and with the acrylic nails, I won't get that.  Plus, I can afford it again now that I'm working regular hours.  :-)

And it strikes me just how very blessed we really are in America......

Merry Christmas if I don't get back on here to say so again before the big day!  I hope Santa brings everyone plenty of goodies and that Jesus blesses everyone with love and peace and joy, which are much more valuable commodities than any goodies Santa will leave in your stocking.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What is grace?

So we had this guest speaker at church this morning and I don't necessarily know if I agreed with everything he said (I'm not saying I disagreed- I just don't know if I agreed)... but I can't run away from his main point, even though I've been trying all day.

He quoted a poll where 5,000 American Christians were asked to give three one-word (or phrase) definitions of "grace" and the overwhelming majority of answers were things like

- a free gift
-forgiveness of sins

And he said that grace is certainly all of those things.  But those things are not the primary definition of grace.  Those things, he thought, reduce grace to a ticket into heaven.  And he quoted Luke 2:40:

"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him".

Why, he asked, did Jesus need grace if it was only a ticket into heaven? 

Good question, I thought.

Grace is, he asserted, first and foremost God's empowerment in our lives.

And then he used a verse that got my attention because I just blogged about it last week and it has been rattling in my brain, repeating itself to me through the day and in the night.....

II Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

He had more verses, but I didn't need any more, really.  Here are some if you want to look them up yourself:
II Peter 1:2-3
John 1:16
I John 4:17
Daniel 6:3
I John 2:6
Acts 4:33
Acts 6:8

I've been sitting here today looking at a 4 inch metal replica of a stake like the ones driven into Jesus' hands and feet (they gave them to us at church on Easter) and thinking about his horrific death so that I could live .... how he came so that I could have life and have it to the full! 

And it nags at me.... Why do we settle for what we are able to do on our own ability (and speaking for myself, isn't a whole lot!) when we have God's supernatural ability available to us through his grace? What things could I do to make the world a better place if I really believed that through grace, I have access to God's amazing power?  What could God do through me?  How would my life look different than it does right now?

What stops me from being extraordinary?  After all, I was created in the image of an extraordinary God. 

Perhaps what this means to me specifically is best left for me to explore with God and not on my blog.  But I just can't shake the realization that God wants so much more from me and for me than I have been allowing myself to believe.

The end for today. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Life Updated

School's out, school's out!  I finished up my semester...  and it would be too soon to say I got all A's, but I know I got two A's and probably two more. So we can just dream.....

And I have about a month now with no classes looming over my head!!!

I will spend some of my time doing this:
Hours and Hours of Puzzle Fun!

PLUS, I started to work again- sort, sort, sorting clothes at a thrift store that benefits The Way, which is my favorite Christ-centered recovery facility.  I have fun coworkers and job security:

And I might get fired for posting that... but I promise you, after a couple months of Brenda Power, that pile will be gone!!! 

Also, I've got beads to make into jewelry... and a dollhouse to finish building.... and a couple of scrapbook paper craft ideas to work on..... it will be a fun month.

And finally, I'm sick of being fat.  So I am working hard on eating more of this:
And doing more of this:

And drinking more of this:

And less of this:

Bye for now!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Around the Room

Just took some pictures of the room all around me on a peaceful Sunday night.
Libby decorated the mantel for Christmas

Rufus has had a long day

Writing God's words on my doorpost

Random shot of the loveseat

My end table next to my chair

My laptop screen.... notice the green splotches where I stepped on it


This semester I took a required class: "The Legal Environment of Business".  The (huge) textbook was called "Business Law" and we only finished a small portion of the book.

I liked it.  And I got an A. :-)

I liked reading about the history of our legal system.

I liked reading the example (real-life) cases and the Supreme Court judge's rulings.

I liked writing the 5 legal briefs we had to write.

I liked listening to my professor, a seasoned lawyer, as he lectured about and wandered all over the subject of "Law". 

I liked learning the legal terminology.

I've been a John Grisham fan since he first started to write... I have all of his books.  "The Firm" was the first book I read by him and once I started it, I could not put it down until I finished.

I have also long been a fan of The People's Court and other daytime court room shows.

And don't forget my passion for JAG before it was taken off the air.  I LOVED that show.

So, all things considered.....

I came to the conclusion that maybe there was something here that might interest me more than Accounting.

So I started to research online and realized that perhaps I would make a better Paralegal than an Accountant. 

-It matches my strengths, interests and skill set better than Accounting .... I like to write.  I like to organize.  I LOVED jury duty. 
-The starting salary is comparable to that of an Accountant starting out.  I won't be wealthy, but I will do okay.
-With my English degree and the business classes I have already taken this year, I can finish the Paralegal program at the local community college in a much shorter time than it was going to take to finish Accounting.  (10 classes compared to 24 more).
-The job outlook for Paralegals is excellent for the next 5-10 years.
-If I drop the pursuit of the Accounting degree, I do not have to take the second semester of Statistics!  Woo hoo!

So... I have changed my direction (and my school) and feel very good about my decision.  

The classes for the new degree cannot all be taken online as I have been doing.  So I will actually be going to campus some.   Not looking forward to that so much.

But overall... I am very excited.

It is a strange and long-forgotten feeling to look at the future and feel a tinge of excitement. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Sweet Niece

My sweet niece, Kelli, made this pillow and decided she wanted to give it to her Aunt Brenda when they were here for Thanksgiving!  Thank you Kelli!!!  I love you!