Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving -- Day 24

Today, I'm thankful for family and extended family and the relationships within both. One meal, many beliefs, yet we get along and have a good time. (The football game with the nieces and nephews has caused a little, well, a lot of soreness, but oh, the fun.)

Thanksgiving -- Day 23

I am thankful that the cliche is true -- When God allows a door to shut, He opens a window.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving -- 22

Today, I am thankful for all the people of "my past." The youth leaders, the Sunday School teachers, the coaches, the teachers. All of those that believed in me and gave me the confidence to be me and strive for the highest. I had a tremendous support network, and as I consider re-entering public education, I pray I will also be that support to some student who needs it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving -- Day 21

I am thankful for social networking sites like facebook. I know that sound cheesy, and flies in the face of all who say face to face friendships are "better," but let me explain.

I am basically a very shy person, and am very uncomfortable talking to someone just for the sake of talking Silence does not bother me in the least; I rather enjoy it (to the point that many times I have "an air" of being snobby or snooty, but that's really not the case).

Through the Internet, I have been able to deal with people as I am able. It gives me time to think about a response and then respond.

I have been able to re-establish old friendships and keep up with them, even if just peripherally.

I have been able to get to know other "real world" people better so that meeting them and talking to them isn't so big and scary to me.

AND, I have a whole group of friends that I have never met, and really aren't more than a few pixels on a monitor, but yet, they are real in their own way.

And in these ways, my life has been enhanced and bettered.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving -- Day 20

I am thankful for a future with potential. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know WHO holds the future for me.

Thanksgiving -- Day 19

I am thankful that God will never leave me nor forsake me. Ever. For any reason, or at any time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving -- day 18

Today I am thankful for doctors. My family has been blessed with some very good ones -- doctors who take the time when we need it and actually listen to us - or at the very least listen to my "mother's intuition."

In the 14+ years Bernard and I have been married, there was only one doctor (a heart surgeon) that was snarky, snide, and snotty, but he was good (probably saved my husband's life or at least extended it a few years) and we only had to deal with him once, so it was tolerable. :P

Thanksgiving -- Day 17

Today, I am thankful for music.

I have always loved music, and though I'm not all that great, I guess by virtue of being a music major in college I know a bit more than the average Joe. But it is not the academic side of music that appeals to me. While there was one point in my life where I could spout off music "facts" about just about anything, nowdays, I have to think about it before I give an answer.

But, the one thing that still sticks with me is the emotion behind it. It sets the tone; it heals the soul. Without words, it speaks to our hearts.

Bach gave us God's word,
Beethoven gave us God's fire,
Mozart gave us God's laughter.
God gave us music that we might pray without words.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 16

Today, I am thankful for the little people in my life. Not just my two kiddos (definitely those, but not *just* those), but others that I get to be around.

Last Spring, I coached some of the absolutely cutest kids on the face of the Earth in peewee baseball. I don't know how much about the sport they learned, but we had a good time.

Now, I am helping coach the Princess's basketball team. THAT is a hoot. 14 girls -- 6, 7, and 8 years old (10 of them have never been on a basketball team before) and it is just so much fun to be around them. I have a feeling that when the season ends in February, I'm going to have 14 favorite little girls.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 15

Today I am thankful for my coworkers. We are a motley bunch - different beliefs, philosophies and life-styles, but generally, a good bunch. My supervisors have always been supportive of me and my peers treat me with respect. I am truly greatful that I have a positive work environment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 14

Today I am thankful that God is the Great Physician. After receiving news that someone near and dear to my little boy is going to "be okay," I am rejoicing and thanking Him. :)

Thankfulness -- Day 13

In January, 2000, I had the privilege to travel with a group to Moscow. While on the trip, we visited hospitals, schools, and orphanages/boarding schools. I remember well standing in the lobby of one of the hospitals talking to the patients on the geriatric ward. As the group leader got to discussing Christ and his love, a couple of men left and some of the women looked absolutely terrified while looking up and down the hall.

Unsure what was happening, we stopped and just asked if everything was okay. One lady explained that they grew up under communism, and the way were talking could have gotten all of us arrested.

Though they were no longer communist, they still couldn't believe they were free.

So, for day 13, I am thankful that I am free to worship, and beyond that, I am FREE in Christ.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 12

Today, I am thankful for God's provision. He is never late; He is never early, and He always gives me exactly what I need.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 11

Today is a day we set aside to remember those who have given of their time, and even life, to protect our country.

If I started making a list, I am afraid I would miss someone, because there are many young men and women that I want to say "Thank you" to.

However, there are a few that stick in my mind today.

Papaw Shuford -- WWII veteran.
My FIL, Randall Shuford - Vietnam

Thanks you, gentlemen, not only for your service, but for the heritage you have established for my children.

And one that is near and dear to my heart -- my former student Stephen Hall who is currently deployed.

But, then, my mind goes back over the years, and I remember standing in the cemetery trumpet in hand, waiting for the salute. Some of the families I knew well -- the father of a college friend; the grandfather of a lifelong friend, but others were complete strangers -- the 19 year old that died for his country in active duty. But one thing united them all -- the pain on their face of losing their loved one, for the briefest of moments when the flag was handed to them, evaporated and became something else -- they were comforted with the knowledge and pride that their loved one had done something that mattered.

So today, I say, "Thank you!" However you served, wherever you served, THANK YOU!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 10

Today's thankfulness is short and sweet. I am thankful that my kids have clothes. Lots of clothes. So many that even when we bag up several bags full to sell or give away, they are not lacking and do not miss anything.

Furthermore, we are blessed in that we have bought very little for our children. My mom works at a larger clothing department store and gets phenomenal discounts which she uses to buy their clothes for Christmas and birthdays.

So, not only do they have clothes, they have nice clothes, cheap. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 9

Today, I am thankful that I enjoy reading and writing. There are times when life simply gets to be so "much" that to sit down and put it on paper (or on a screen as is more often the case nowdays) is almost cathartic.

Even moreso, I am thankful that at least one of my kids LOVES to read (the other one will get there. eventually. maybe). One is a natural story teller, so when she figures out the whole writing thing, I think she may enjoy that, and be good at it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 8

Today is difficult. Not because I don't have things to be thankful for, I have many, but because my heart is heavy.

Trav's teacher is facing a fairly significant surgery and will be out for several weeks. In addition to my concern about her and her family, there is also the pain of watching my little boy's anxiety of worrying about his beloved teacher and wondering how he will get along with the substitute.

On top of that, I am making some fairly weighty decisions concerning my "career" and Kristi's education.

On top of that, I am dealing with some disappointments in things not working the way I want and the feeling of rejection that comes with it.

I think, then, for these things I will be thankful.

For when I am carrying a heavy load, there is Someone beside me who will carry me.

When I am anxious, He will hold me and remind me that it is going to be alright.

When I am worried about the future, He reminds me that He is *holding* the future.

So, today, I am thankful that "HE IS!"

Monday, November 07, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 7

Today, I am thankful I am a parent. Not only because I love my kids dearly, but because they have taught me so much about the Heavenly Father and His love for me.

When I looked at and held Travis for the first time, I was overwhelmed at how much I loved him, and how suddenly he had a grip on my heart.

Three years later, when I looked at Kristiana the first time, I had that same feeling and was in awe at how I really could love two as much as I loved one.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . . .

As my children grew and developed, my sense of pride in their accomplishments was unparalleled. I rejoiced in each new step, and at the same time enjoyed encouraging them to do the best they could be.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

There are times when I watch them sleep at night, peaceful and still, and I think of their future and what I hope and dream for them, and my heart fills once again with the love and thankfulness that they are in my life.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

There are those moments (that are becoming more rare as my kids become older) when they come and climb up in my lap and say, "I love you Mama; you are the best in the world," that make me all warm and fuzzy inside and at those moments, I know I would do absolutely ANYTHING to make my children's worlds right.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

When something happens that is out of their control and they are upset or sad, I feel upset and sad. I want to take them in my arms and make them feel okay again. If someone hurts them, I feel that hurt. If something makes them mad, I get mad. When they are disappointed or let down, I feel disappointed or let down. I, literally it seems, feel their pain.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

Then there are those times when the kids know my last button and are jumping up and down on it pushing me past *that* point. I put aside my "mother" face and in its place grows frenzied hair, red eyes, smoky ears, jagged teeth and I lose each and every one of the fruits of the spirit that just moments before I may have possessed. I don't want to deal with them patiently, or in love, or with humility or meekness, I just want to explode on them and open a can.

And to think, that is NOT how God feels about me. . .

And therein, I am thankful for my kids, and even when we have days like today, they can show me the Heavenly Father's love for me.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 6

Today, I am thankful for employment and choices and choices IN employment. Each week, it seems that I have at least one lady or gentleman who is late 40s, early 50s, just laid off from a job they have worked for over 20 years, and they are having to get their GED just to find a job.

I can choose to work or not, part-time or full-time, teach or assist. The choices (and subsequent changes) are daunting, but I am thankful I have that choice.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 5

Today, I am thankful for my grandmothers and the Godly heritage they gave me.

Lela Kilby Mull "Mom" was a prayer warrior and fantastic cook.

Mattie Lucille Valentine "Mimaw" was a dear woman to me. Also a good cook (I wonder if my current physical shape was as impressed by them as my spiritual?), I remember her being there for me when life knocked me down.

Neither grandmother was financially well off, so they didn't give me money, or leave me an estate.

But, what they did give me was longer lasting and far more valuable. From them, I learned to call upon the Lord, to love unconditionally, and to trust in the Lord.

For that, I am thankful.

(The picture above is my grandmother Mattie Valentine, taken around July, 1970. I am sitting on the right and my cousin Danette is sitting on the left. Standing (l to r) is my sister Kelly,my cousin Scotty, my cousin David, my brother Kevin, my cousin Dale and my cousin Shannon).

Friday, November 04, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 4

Today, I am thankful to live where I live. I currently reside about 14 miles from the house I grew up in. I have only had two addresses in my entire life. I guess for some, that would be boring, and perhaps it is, but I prefer to see it as stable. :P

It is a small, rural town and while we don't have some of the "experiences" that bigger cities can offer, the peace and tranquility that exists is a fair trade, I think.

Even though I went to Tuscola (one side of the county) and now live on the Pisgah side, I usually see someone I know whenever I am out in town. At the Bethel Mall (aka Dollar General), I have yet to go in and NOT see someone I know.

To me, it is comforting to know that there will be a familiar, and usually friendly, face just around the corner. I like knowing my kids' friends' parents and even grandparents. I like that my kids go to school with several of their cousins. I like that when my son or daughter is invited to a birthday party, it is okay if the other one tags along (kristi knows Trav's friends as well as he does, I think).

Good or bad, I like that our family has a "history" here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 3

Wow. I started several times today to write this post, and kept putting off. Now, I've made it extra challenging because, to be honest, I'm a bit mad about a situation, and hurt and bewildered. However, it just reminds me that God does not deserve our praise and thanksgiving just when we are all warm and fuzzy inside.

I'm also reminded that for the past two weeks, I have been teaching my Sunday School class about Romans 8:28. Now, I'm having a chance to apply it, painful as it may be.

I am thankful that all things will work for good, even when I can't see the good. I'm thankful that my Lord, and Savior, has a plan, He knows the plan, and that plan is good for me. These bumps in the road are simply reminders to trust Him and what his plan is for me.

I'm also reminded that in the big picture, the bumps are small. Mere blips even. I'm upset and frustrated over a trivial matter that in a few years (months, weeks, or even days) will be irrelevant, while people I know are living their final days on Earth in pain, struggling with a recent cancer diagnosis, worrying over a wayward child, wondering how they are going to feed their family, or have just found out they will no longer have a job in 2 weeks.

God knows what I need, when I need it, even if it is not what I think I need.

Being thankful is humbling.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 2

Sometimes, it is the difficult moments in life that bring us to our knees and help us to realize what we've got, and what we've not.

Before 1999, I loved my family. After 1999, I realized that I probably wouldn't make it without them.

When my dad had a massive heart attack and ended up in a semi-comatose/chronic vegetative state, Mom wanted to bring him home and take care of him instead of letting him go to a nursing home.

In the next 2 and a half years, we had to make the conscious decision to get along and work together. I learned that when you *decide* to do that, doing it becomes a lot easier.

So, today, I am thankful for my brothers and sisters.

Kevin -- My big brother. Admittedly, there were times in my life where I could only wonder "what ARE you doing?" but as far back as I can remember, he was always the best big brother ever. Well, except for when he did those airplane spins, and flipped his eyelids inside out and chased me through the house. After Daddy got sick, he kinda became the head of our family. To this day, he is the one that will listen to gripe, complain, scream and complain, then look at me and say, "It's okay. It will all work out, now calm down." He's probably the ONLY person that can tell me to calm down without getting his head knocked off.

Jenny -- Not my sister by birth, but the absolutely coolest sister-in-law anyone could ever want. Jenny brings an element of sweetness and kindness into our family that none of us have.

Kelly -- My big sister. Growing up, my tormentor and guardian all rolled into one. She picked on me, ignored me, and forbid me to go into her room, but let someone else say something to me, and she was all over them. As adults, we aggravate her about being a control freak, but if you EVER want to see a nice spread, go to her house for dinner sometime. I wish I could be half the hostess she is. Kelly always comes through when you need her to.

Stevie -- Not my brother, but he's been around since I was young, so he's just kinda always been there. He doesn't say much, and he has many hidden talents. He can build about anything for you no matter how odd, and he will do it without grumbling or complaining. Like Jenny, not really my brother, but he is my brother.

Kasey -- the baby of the family and the target of more jokes and pranks than I can even begin to remember. She probably should have a post of her own. Actually, I could probably do a whole blog on "Things we've done to Kasey" and not run out of material for a long time. She is the emotion of the family, and the one that will make sure we are all getting along, even if it means uniting us by laughing at her. I read something the other day about best friends, and when I think of my best friends, I always include Kasey because despite our age difference, she really is one of my best friends.

Martin -- The newest addition to our family. So much like my husband, it is frightening sometimes, but that is okay. I'm thankful for Martin because he grounded my little sister and helped her to grow up. Heck, any man that can marry Kasey is bound to have resolve, patience, and character that runs deep. :P Like Jenny and Stevie, not my brother by birth, but my brother none the less.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

November Thankfulness -- 1

I see several of my friends on facebook posting one thing each day they are thankful for. I thought that was a splendid idea, and decided to play along.

Only one teeny tiny problem.

I could not come up with ONE thing I was thankful for for the day.

I would thank of one, then another, then another, then another. Within minutes, I had a fairly long list of things. It was kinda like taking a kid in a toy or candy store and offering to buy them ANYTHING they wanted, but only one thing. If you've never done this, try it. I would wager MOST kids will take FOREVER choosing because they will keep changing their mind.

So, I am not limiting myself to one a day. I do, however, want to post everyday with what I am thankful for THAT day. And why.

* I am thankful that my son got the teacher he did for his first year of "real" school. She truly loves the children, is a woman of God, and has been a blessing to him (and me) during this HUGE transition.

* My health and my families' health. My kids are healthy. We battle the occasional tummy ache or snuffy nose, but that is it. My husband is still alive and kicking. Based on what we learned in 2007 about his heart defect, this is a miracle. The "problems" I may have are NOTHING compared to what some of my friends are going through.

*I have a house that keeps me warm, cool, and dry. And it is a nice house.

* God is in control of what is going on, and I don't have to worry about the future.