It is the stinkin’ last day of November!

How did this happen? Wasn’t it just Jan 1, 2012 a couple months ago?

So, in honor of the last day of the 11th month of the year 2012, I think A List is in order. Even better…A List of Randomness. *aka I really have nothing to say so I will make it up as I go along*

1) As I’m typing this I’m watching _ _ _ _. Fill in the blank correctly and win my love and admiration for paying attention to my sad, little obsession.

2) I’m wearing my glasses right now and when I lower my chin and look at the the Christmas Tree…built-in bokeh! Don’t know what bokeh is? Here is a definition.

3) I’m currently obsessed with Wikipedia. I don’t believe a word I read, but obsessed I remain.

4) My Man has been gone all week. In Atlantic City on *air quotes* business *end air quotes*. No, really he is. He is currently on 395S, sitting in traffic, trying to get home to his beloved. (that would be Jack Bodacious)

5) I finally got the living room cleaned out and pretty much finished decorating. The dining room is next, assuming I can get into it. Will work on that tomorrow after I spend a few hours at the office. After spending 90 minutes at the gym. After making a run to The Walmarts. Busy day planned tomorrow. It’s Friday!

6) I can’t hang our stockings on the chimney with care because I’m using the fireplace every day. And they would catch on fire. Which would sort of put a damper on Christmas this year. Although, I do recall I recently suggested to my mother that I was going to just haul everything out front and burn it and start over. She, wisely, suggested I do not do it. So I’m purging and organizing instead. So much less dramatic.

7) Is it just me or are the Christmas commercials this year particularly awful? Every time that stupid K-mart commercial comes on with the lights song, I turn the channel. And also the K-mart layaway commercial. Ugh.

8) What have y’all asked Santa for Christmas? I asked for a juicer. Yep. And slippers. Before you shake your head…I have a specific juicer and specific slippers I want. So I sent Russell Santa the link for each item so he wouldn’t mess it up it would be easier for him. I’m considerate like that.

9) I am completely freaking out because my oldest baby is graduating from college next week. Next week. How is this possible? Even being a child bride, this makes me, well…pretty mature. Saturday My Man and I are going to gut his basement room and hose it down and clean the carpet. Fits right in with my need to purge and organize frame of mind.

10) Okay, My Man is home. Gotta dash. Thanks for being along for the ride this month.

Love you guys. Chat soon!

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Thank goodness that’s over.

Thanks, everyone for all of the sweet comments. Deciding to title my blogs alphabetically in November was really the outcome of trying to figure out a way to come up with something to write about each day. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be and I think it really gave me an opportunity to think through a writing idea, and not always from start to finish but from a word outward. Most bloggers have a writing scheduling; they plan their blogs days or weeks ahead. I’m not that disciplined. I wing it every day. Can’t say it always works for me, but I think my writing voice is, for now at least, more about what is going on in my life today.

Also, I am apparently obsessed with change. Really, though, I am writing about what is going on in my life and, if you were doing the same, you would see that everything around is changing daily. Nothing profound there. I just put it out there to share with the world; you are just living it.

I have enjoyed writing daily. One of the changes *ahem* I would like to make in 2013 is to write daily. Maybe not blog daily; maybe not ever share what I write, but to begin developing the discipline of writing. God and I have been discussing a couple of book ideas. One that He put on my heart I am really, really apprehensive about. The time isn’t right yet, but I am starting to think about the research I will be doing and people I will need to involve. Scary and exciting at the same time.

I would also appreciate your suggestions on what I should write about here on This Girl. Comment, email or facebook me with your thoughts. One suggestion I loved was to add more photography to my posts. I actually do take a lot of pictures and I hope to develop *get it…pictures…develop…ar ar* my photog skills in 2013.

You have all been  so kind and supportive this month. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope you will stick around for the long haul.

By the way, this is my living room view this morning. I’m totally ignoring it and heading to Chick-fil-a shortly to meet with The Girls. Just keeping it real.

Love you guys. Chat soon!

Zapped.

UPDATE: My bff from high school, Joyce was the first to answer correctly: The blog titles are alphabetical. But your comments were enlightening…apparently I am obsessed with change or, rather, hating change, lol. 

The first person who comments on my blog in the comments section with the correct answer will win. You cannot comment anonymously, because then I won’t know who you are or how to get in touch with you to send you your prize.

Here’s the question.

For the month of November, I have been blogging almost daily…

what has been my theme?

Go.

Yuletide.

I love words. Yuletide is just a cool. word. It has a Germanic origin. The people on my mom’s side of the family are German-Swiss so I loved the connection there. I googled the word and clicked on the Merriam-Webster link for the definition. It is sad that I got tons more info about Yuletide from Wikipedia. Sign of the times? Speaking of signs…did you read my post from yesterday?

Which has nothing to do with today’s post on Yuletide. At least not that I know of. Yet.

Yuletide…Christmas time…Winter Solstice. All words popping into my brain as I sit on my (fave) blue couch, Christmas Tree lights a-twinkle, fireplace flickering, Christmas music playing, the house to myself for the first time in days. This will be Tuesday’s post, although I am writing it Monday morning. I wanted to capture some thoughts I have before they melt away.

I think I have pretty much established that, while I struggle with change, I am always looking to change me. Maybe a better word would be grow me. Which is what the name of my blog is all about…I’m no longer that girl…I am now this girl and this girl wants to continue growing into this girl every day. Does that make sense?

My Man says I analyze too much. Men are so much more black and white, aren’t they? I’ve been so sad the last 10 days over The Wild Boy and His Princess breaking up. The reason behind the break-up doesn’t matter. I hate seeing them in pain. And somehow *ahem* I found myself talking to both of them about it and that just made me hurt more. My Man, on the other hand was totally, “get over it, Susan, it’s their business.” Um, no…that’s my baby boy and we have come to love His Princess like our own. So I’ve been fretting over it, which, getting back on track, has nothing to do with Yuletide, does it? *You would think and you would be wrong*

Because My Man is right. I need to get out of it. Thus, another part of me that needs to change grow. And the need to grow reminds of Yuletide and Christmas and Winter Solstice because the New Year is just around the corner. It’s not that I’m a fan of New Year’s resolutions, because I’m not; but, January 1 always seems like a good time for me to make some changes; to grow a bit.

More on that later. Of course I am compiling A List.

By the way, stay tuned for Wednesday’s post…it’s a give away. But you will have to answer a question correctly and answer it with a comment on my blog so if you don’t know how to do that…you best figure it out between now and Wednesday.

Love you guys. Chat soon.

X-ray Vision.

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz,  “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” (Isaiah 7:10, 11)

Sometimes I wish I had it. The kind of x-ray vision that sees into people’s thoughts and heart. And the future. And God’s plan.

I cringed as I typed that last part. And laughed as I re-read the first part. Can you imagine? Talk about scary stuff. *speaking strictly from the viewpoint of someone looking into my true thoughts and heart*

I suppose if I really knew God’s plan, it would be very anti-climatic to live life.

I have the next best thing, though, I think. Prayer. There are some things going on lately that have me really, really confused. So I’ve been talking to God a lot about it. Questions… looking for guidance …reassurance …insight.

Years ago, in a moment of desperate need, I told God I really just needed a flashing neon green sign to know what to do. He, surprisingly enough, gave it. In the color green. Oh, I see you wrinkling your nose and poo-pooing it, but, it’s true. It happened; it continues to happen. Not every time I need an answer, but often enough to not be “a coincidence.” The funny part of all of it is that I really do not like the color green. It’s probably my least favorite color. Which makes the appearance of it during prayer or need even more significant.

While it’s not x-ray vision, at least it is a confirmation that I am on the right track, that All is Well. Ask for a sign, y’all. And keep asking.

Love you guys. Chat soon.

Woe to the busyness.

I am finally feeling less overwhelmed and less stressed. I believe it is because I took some time to pray, reflect, reevaluate, and listen. So here are some things I figured out. Shockingly, I’m thinking a list form is appropriate:

:: My quiet time had really been cut down to a quiet five minutes. It always happens that when I add something(s) new, my quiet time is the first to go. When will I learn that my entire day hinges on starting my day well?

:: Not only have I added the gym to my schedule, but I added it right at the busiest time of the year. I am a morning workout kind of girl. If I don’t workout first thing, it ain’t happening. Getting up early for my quiet time also means starting my coffee consumption first thing. By the time I was getting to the gym, the caffeine had definitely done a number on my body. So *gulp* part of my quiet time ritual will now include no coffee; just water. I know it is healthier, all around, but it will definitely be difficult. Maybe that not so tiny sacrifice will actually impact my quiet time!

:: I really do have a lot of Christmas shopping done. I expect to finish up on schedule by November 30, minus the big Walmart stocking stuffer run which is traditionally done a week or so before Christmas Day by My Man and me. The kicker this year…will she or won’t she actually begin wrapping prior to the day before Christmas? I say she will. Everyone is getting bigger (read pricier) presents this year, which also means everyone is getting less gifts that need to be wrapped.

:: Change up the attitude. I’m just saying no. And if I do say yes to something, I’m letting something else go. As an example, I finally feel that it is time for me to get back on the Praise Team at church. It is something I have always been called to do *we are all called to use our God-given gifts and abilities* and for a time, I participated *aka obeyed* until I was just so stressed out about it I had to step down. The fear factor. It consumed me for a time. I’ll probably be talking about it in future blog posts. So I am obeying and have pulled the 12-string back out and will restring it and start practicing at home and then start practicing with the Praise Team after January 1. But I had to let something else go. At least I thought I did. Now, I’m not so sure. More on that later, also.

:: Focus. My focus is turning more and more to my family. I’ve always been about the family, y’all. Always. But the last few years, which my five regular readers know all about, have been hard on our family. I cherish the moments with them, like never before. Having said that, however, our family’s pain has also enlightened me to the pain of others. I am so much more sensitive to those around me, not in our blood family, but in our life family. I love spending time with them, also.

:: My mom has always talked to me about the general busyness of our family unit. With three children, all active in multiple sports, church, school activities, etc., it has been hard not to be busy. I don’t regret a single minute of it. In fact, I kind of miss that busyness. It was productive busyness. It was time spent with our children and with each other; we still have many wonderful friends from that era; My Man loves, loves, loves being out somewhere and a kid will walk up, stick out his hand and say, “How are you, Mr./Coach Smith?”

Now that I’m reading back through this post a bit, I realize that we are still really busy, but I think it is a different kind of busy. Busy with a purpose; not to please others. Busy being obedient to what we feel our family is being called to; not just to do stuff because we feel guilty. In any case, I know I need to be more selective in what I choose to do and not do. And now that I am tossing around a couple of book ideas…well, imagining how that will impact my busyness is freaking me out. More to come on that, too.

Love you guys. Thank you so much for your encouragement and love. Chat soon.

Verily, I say to thee…’tis MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I’m just going to put it out there: I hate when someone says to me, HAPPY HOLIDAYS. I never used to hate it. In fact, I’ve said it many a time. It’s all encompassing…all of the Holiday’s being united under one umbrella. But one day, while shopping in a large department store, the cashier said, “Happy Holidays” as she handed me my bag and I answered with a cheery, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” She looked quickly from side to side, leaned forward and whispered…whispered for crying out loud,

“Merry Christmas.”

I was really taken aback when she informed me that she had been told not to say Merry Christmas, “because saying Merry Christmas offends people.”

What. The. Heck?

I really don’t mind the other holiday’s that are celebrated in December. If I were Jewish I would be celebrating Hanukkah and telling everyone Happy Hanukkah. And I would still be ticked by the entire “it’s offensive to say, Merry Christmas” thing.

But really, when has Jesus not made people uncomfortable?  From the moment he was born, he was sending the masses into an uproar.

I’m going to continue with my jolly, “Merry Christmas!” and please, continue with your Happy Hanukkah, Happy Boxing Day, whatever. I’m totally cool with it. And if you are going to say, “Happy Holidays” please let it be because you don’t celebrate anything and if that’s the case…let’s talk.

Love you guys. Chat soon.

Unimaginable Joy.

I’ve been taking stock of my joy the last week or so.

As a rule, I tend to focus on what I don’t have and what’s not right in my life rather than what I do have and what’s great in my life. My Man has always been the optimistic and me…not so much.

But that is not what we are called to do. One of the first (and there are not many…yet) scriptures I memorized was John 10:10. But I have come to give you life and to give it abundantly (the Susan Smith translation). In Philippians, Paul talks about being content in all circumstances. I always took this to mean he was always able to find the joy.

Sometimes I have to try really hard to find the joy. Even when it is slapping me in the face.

My goal for 2013 is to find the joy. That doesn’t mean I mourn less; doesn’t mean I don’t care or ignore the hardships that come my way. I’m just choosing to keep my focus on the joy in my life; the things for which I am thankful. Which, of course, includes a list:

– a warm, bright fireplace on a chilly morning
– a comfy couch to sink into while I’m writing and watching the sun come up
– furry, loving critters who hog the bed and wake me in the morning with soft stretches and kneading paws
– a husband who braves the cold and wind to spoil me with fresh-brewed Starbucks coffee
– three children who make me laugh and cry, often within moments of each other
– family and friends, near and far
– full cupboards and fridges and freezers (oh, my)
– so much stuff I have to continuously give things away
– health and health care
– God-given gifts and abilities
– fuzzy slippers
– a loving, God-fearing, bible-believing church family

Just to name a few.

Be thinking about all of the things you are thankful for this Holiday Season. Especially on those days filled with hustle and stress…

Love you guys. Chat soon.

Typical morning…

day starting with little sleep during the night
waking up to check my iPhone very, very early
to see a text from a sweet girl I miss
and a facebook post by my momma that makes me cry
myself back to sleep
waking up in time to jump up, run into the Wild Boy’s room and scream
“CLASS STARTS IN 20 MINUTES!!!!”
while stepping aside to stay the heck out of the way
as he hustles around the house
then roars off in his Jeep
before I head downstairs to start the fire
and grind up good coffee beans
making the the kitties wait to be fed
because I love to hear them talk to me about it
so that it is quiet while I stand by as the coffee brews
smelling the wonderfulness that is the first cup
that will begin to get my day back on track
before I even sit down for Quiet Time with
the Lover of my Soul
Who reminds me that this is what life is all about
and that It Is Good.

Tats.

My one dedicated reader, who refers to herself as The Peanut Gallery, put a note in the blog suggestion box regarding tattoos. I think it’s a good subject to discuss. Now that I have one, I think I can speak semi-intelligently on the subject. You are probably not going to agree with me.

Which is totally cool.

Tats have been mentioned on my blog before. Here and here. I have never hidden the fact that I have a tattoo. It is on my left forearm, inside, near my wrist. It has significant meaning to me. I don’t refer to it as “ink” or “body art.” If I ever get another one, it will tie in with the one I already have. My tat is a heart with the initials A B O. I wanted something kinda girly and it is. Even though The A B O stands for Andrew Bryson Odenthal, who was anything but girly. He was big and brawny and manly and funny and a hugger and a kisser. He had the most beautiful eyes and his belly laugh was beyond contagious. *stopping now for a cry session*

Okay, I’m back. I don’t even have to be talking about him to start crying. Sometimes it just happens. Grief is like that. Blog post/book on grief coming up someday.

He was just shy of 23 when he died. My sister and my brother-in-law started the whole “getting a tattoo in Andy’s memory” thing. Andy had a tat. It was of a phoenix. It was huge. And beautiful. My sister’s tat is on her inside forearm also. Angel wings with a heart in the middle and Andy’s initials. My brother-in-law has the Super Man logo with ABO and followed that up with a replica of Andy’s phoenix, using the the same template the tat artist used for Andy’s. My niece, Minz, has at least one in his memory and so does Andy’s fiancee, Megs. And then there is The Wild Boy. This is where you will probably disagree with me about the whole tat thing. I signed his permission form to get his tattoo. My Man was there, also. As were a whole group of people to support him. He has a cross with Andy’s initials. It is not little, by any means:

He was very brave. It hurts like the dickens. I know mine did. His tat is on his shoulder, an even more tender spot. See that shading on the left outside? OUCH. Big time. Again, he might never have gotten a tattoo if it hadn’t been to honor his cousin’s memory.

So, back to tats in general. The Peanut Gallery wanted me to address the whole when did tats become acceptable in polite society and did I get one just to be rebellious and thumb my nose at authority. Okay, so that last part…if I had known I could even get a tat back when I was a teenager, I would have been All. Over. It. for just that reason…the entire rebellion thing. I would probably have a ton of random, wish-I’d-never-done-it/what-was-I-thinking tats. Thank You, Jesus, that tats didn’t become popular until I was old more mature. Now? My Girl says getting a tat is sooooo boring. Overdone. Blase. Been there, done that. If you are just getting one now…you are so late to the par-tay.

Back in the day, the only people I knew who had tats were ex-military and biker-dudes. I would imagine that when gangs became popular, more mainstream, that was a great way to prove you were a member. Probably after that, the more rebellious teens and young adults started doing it and a new fad was born.

I know there are folks in the business of religion who think that tats are not for Christians, and they have scripture to support their position. I actually tend to believe they are correct in their interpretation. However, being a sassy girl who is not known for her obedience, getting a tat seemed right down my alley.

Let’s stop a moment and discuss tat location dos and dont’s. I purposely chose the location of my tat for two reasons: it is for ME to see and be reminded. In fact, the tattoo artist (who had also done Andy’s and the rest of his family’s) was really ticked that I chose to have my tat facing me and not facing out. She said that tattoos are for other people to look at. I got mine for me to look at. Period.

Second reason for choosing my tat location: the wrinkle/sag factor. Probably enough said on that.

So, there you have it Diane Peanut Gallery. I hope I answered your questions. Can’t wait to see your new tattoo! *grin*