Am I crazy??

Lately I’ve been wondering if I have a problem with dealing with people.  Seriously.  Little Miss Sunshine over here has been wigging out on folks lately.

For instance, let me tell you a story.

This past Sunday, my family quietly pulled onto the side of the road to pick up their little runaway grown-up girl who had decided she was ready to leave the luncheon and was sitting on the steps of an old church building.  Just minutes before, we had all been eating together at a church meal up the road.  I left the table in search of desserts.  An older woman at the church asked if I would get her two chicken wings.  “Sure, no problem.”  I got two styrofoam plates – one ready for the chicken, one for my dessert.  I looked inside the box of chicken.  Only breasts left.  *sigh*  I grabbed the smallest one and thought, Maybe she’ll be satisfied with this.  Then for good measure, I also grabbed a chicken tender.  Yes, that’ll do her.

I kept moving down the line towards my precious desserts.  I was so close when another older woman started talking me.  She asked what I was up to and where I was living and what church I attended and why that church was nondenominational and what on earth could have made them make that decision.  Lady, why you askin’ all dem questions?!  I’m sorry.   I just don’t do small talk.  It’s exhausting.  It’s impersonal.  It’s often a little too nosy for my taste.  And who cares why the church is nondenominational?  I abruptly ended the conversation by saying, “To me, the church is the church,” then smiled and walked away.  For whatever reason, that little snippet of a conversation was enough to make me want to get out of dodge.  I handed the plate of chicken to my brother who conveniently showed up at that moment and told him I couldn’t be around people much longer.  Then I made a b-line for the door.  I threw away my unused plate reserved for dessert and walked past a line of people without raising my eyes.  I walked down the gravel driveway to the main road and just kept on walking.  I walked about a quarter mile before deciding I should turn around and stay closer to my family and the car that would take me safely back home.

I cried as I walked down the road.  I couldn’t tell you what exactly it was that prompted this crying episode.  But it happened.  And I didn’t feel like being around any people in that moment.  I finally rested my caboose on the steps of the old church building, unused for over two years now, located across the road from the new facility where lunch was taking place.  The plan was eventually for me to work up the nerve to march back over to where my family was before anyone realized I was gone.  But then again, I had been crying.  My eyes were swollen and my face was splotchy.  Hardly fit to be seen.  So there I lingered on the old church steps.  Just sitting like a little toddler with my elbows on my knees and my face propped up on my hands.  That’s exactly how my family found me when they emerged from the long driveway leading up to the church steps and pulled off the road to pick me up.  They didn’t ask any questions – just rolled up, unlocked the doors, and had me climb in.  I was quiet the whole ride home.  When I arrived home, I curled up in my dad’s recliner and didn’t stir until I woke up 3 hours later.  They say naps usually help a grumpy toddler.   I was hoping that was so for me also.

Any idea why such a bubbly person who is all about helping others would so suddenly without warning find talking with people intolerable?  I’m still trying to make sense of it all.  For now, I will postulate that it all goes back to fatigue and stress and uncertainty about the future.  More on that to come.   In the meanwhile, my focus is to say the positive things I already know and then eventually my attitude will catch up.


(Not so) Easy Bake Oven

When I was about 7 years old, I told Santa i wanted an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas.  When my 7 year old self woke up on Christmas that year, she found that Santa had left her a brand new microwave oven.  The Santa in my neck of the woods was a practical thinker.  My parents quickly came to Santa’s defense.  “Oh, Amber, just imagine.  Your own microwave.  You could heat up your own food and keep it for down the road when you’re older.”  That microwave went straight to the attic where it waited until the parents decided it was time to sell the never opened / never used appliance.  And little 7 year old Amber never got to experience the wonders of the famous Easy Bake Oven.

Fast forward a few years to my 20th Christmas.  As you get older the presents tend to get less extravagant: clothes, toothbrush, candy – all the essentials.  That year there was something interesting with my name on it.  This item was large and wrapped in festive paper, thus signaling that the gift was from mama and daddy.  I opened it up and what did I find?  A brand new Easy Bake Oven, a deep shade of purple, revamped for a new generation of children.  Apparently, that unrealized childhood wish took a toll on my mama’s conscience over the years.  She finally was making sure I knew what it felt like lay hands on an Easy Bake Oven.  Somewhat of an impractical gift since for a college girl the microwave would have been far more useful.  But this story is more interesting, so I’ll keep going…

That Easy Bake Oven held a place of honor in our hallway for about a year and a half, where it remained unopened waiting for the perfect opportunity to bake some scrumptious cookies or cakes one day.  Just this weekend, my mama and I decided to take the packing off of it and see what this baby could do!  Let me just say, from the moment we started reading the directions, we were underwhelmed.

  1. Allow 20 minutes for oven to heat.  —  Twenty minutes?!   Does it really take a high-powered lightbulb that long to get warm?
  2. Mix contents of packet with 1 teaspoon of water.  We had to read that several times to ensure the ‘1 teaspoon’ was not a typo.  However, once we examined the contents of the cookie dough mix packet, it was clear that only 1 teaspoon would be needed to wet the entire mixture.  I was truly afraid if the air conditioning came on while I was opening the packet, it very well could blow my entire cookie mix away.
  3. Portion size:  12 cookies.  Hmmm… Methinks maybe not.  Oh wait, sorry.  Misread. 12 cookie *bites*  Ever seen the cereal called cookie crisps?  That’s about the size of a ‘cookie bite’.

Just a spoonful of dough….


There goes 12 cookies

After we finally got the dough made and distributed it into 12 little portions on the pan, we let it bake in the oven for 9 minutes.  You want to know something I learned about that Easy Bake Oven system.  It’s really a test of your faith.  When you put that little pan of your 12 cookie bites in the oven, you have to let it sit there untouched for the full 9 minutes plus 5 minutes of cool time before you can even see any evidence that the oven actually cooked the food.  There’s no view finder or peek hole or anything.  Just faith, trust, and pixie dust.


The results


Teeny tiny cookie crisps

It all worked out well and good for us.  The cookies came out looking a little flat, but the taste was right on point.  Still, I think a lot of work for so little reward.  Don’t worry.  We had 24 full-size chocolate chip cookies on backup that we cooked in our full-size gas range oven.  Note:  This is the only way to use an Easy Bake Oven.  As means of creating a preamble to your main dessert course.




Throwback – I wash (and dry) my hands of it!

I know it’s a little late for a Throwback Thursday post, but I just had to share this sight that awaited me at work today.

hand dryer.png
How long has it been since you’ve seen one of these things?  I asked my coworkers and one person’s reply was, “Gross.  Truck stop maybe 10 years ago”.  Another quickly replied, “I’m gonna go with “never” for 800, Alex.”  Clever coworkers I have.

I remember last (and probably first) seeing one of these older towel dispensers in Italy back in April 2013.  I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it, and I too was grossed out by it.  Yet I’m the same girl who wipes her face in her body towel and doesn’t wash it for close to two weeks.  So maybe I need to rethink my standards of what counts as gross.

This contraption is known as a reusable towel roll.  The idea is that after washing your hands, you can tug on the towel and expose a portion of “fresh” towel with which to dry your hands.  It turns out that these continuous roll systems are (according to some) the most hygienic hand drying tool available.  Apparently, people do not do a good job in general of washing their hands thoroughly, so often it is the hand drying portion that in fact removes more bacteria from the hands by way of either heat or mechanical means (i.e. wiping the hands).  I never thought about it, but according to the hand washing experts, wet hands actually transmit much more bacteria than dry hands.  Some interesting things I learned from this article as to the negative repercussions of other hand-drying systems….

  • Paper towels often do not make it in the trash can.  Guess where some end up.  That’s right – inside the toilet.  The paper towels clog them.  Thus leading to more contaminated restrooms.
  • You know those fancy Dyson dryers with narrow openings you stick your hands in?  Those may get your hands dry quickly, but they might actually be blowing the bacteria off of your hands with those high speed fans but then back into the air or your clothes.  In fact, some FDA regulations require that food establishments with this style of hand dryer actually have other (more hygienic) means of drying hands.  This stuff kind of makes me not want to use those fancy things anymore.
  • And then there’s the regular warm air blower.  Turns out those things might actually be blowing more bacteria onto your skin than you started with because they’re typically just recirculating the icky restroom air.  Ew.

All of this lovely information I learned by reading the article at:
Read it for yourself, but take it with a grain of salt.  🙂

Sorry that this post was not so much a feel good one.  But some lessons just hit you smack in the face.  This might just cause me to reevaluate my prior choice to put my mouth under the fun jet dryer to see my cheeks puff up.  On a side note, if you haven’t done this or witnessed it, you’ve got to try it.  Never mind the mouth full of bacteria that might be involved!
sky dive

Is it Friday yet?


Me too, brother.  Me too.

Wednesday used to be my favorite day of the week, until it became popular for everyone to get so excited about “Hump day!”  (Cue the obnoxious GEICO camel).  Okay, so maybe I’m being a little critical over all the hype about the whole hump day thing.

But Wednesdays should still be nice, right?  I should be saying to myself, “Yay!  The week is half-way over!”  Since when did I get so old that Wednesday’s hump day image only conjures up thoughts of my ever-so-poor posture and the increasing concavity of my back and shoulders as they hunch over from fatigue.  Oy!  Time for some stretching!

Big Sky

Sometimes when the weather feels so nice you just have to soak it in.

I have terms for days like today…. Titanic weather.  You may wonder, “Whatever could she mean by that?”  Don’t worry.  We haven’t had a freak iceberg show up or anything.

Actually, here in North Carolina, the high was a sultry 82°F with winds of 10mph from the south this afternoon.   When the breeze hits me just right, no matter what I’m doing – even if in mid stride – I stop and lean into the wind, spread my arms open, and breathe in the fresh air.   Yes, it’s Titanic weather.  Winds that make me feel like I’m standing on the railing of a ship and that bubble up this urge inside of me to yell, “I’m king of the world!”

It’s moments like these that I look to the sky and it feels so big, so vast, so far and wide, and yet so close as if it’s embracing me.  What a wonderful thought to be embraced by this big sky.  It completely envelopes me and yet my arms are powerless in trying to even hold on to a portion of it.  Assuming the Titanic pose and leaning into the wind with arms open is the closest I ever feel to that beautiful sky.  And I hope to never depart from that feeling.

Sky references in scripture:  Psalm 19:1;   Job 26:7;    Acts 2:19;    Psalm 36:5


Rain Drop Races

Do you remember being a little kid sitting in the backseat of a car when the rain was pouring down outside your window?  Can’t you just still imagine tracing those little trails that the rain drops raced down as if they were in a mad dash to reach some finish line?

Rainy days as a kid used to be so exciting.  Well, at least in my family it was exciting.  Rain meant that daddy got to stay home.  That was always what I liked about rainy days.  It also meant that maybe – just maybe – we might get the chance to go to town once our rooms were clean and if we were nice to our mama.

My dad was a farmer so his whole livelihood depended on the weather.  In many cases, rain meant nourishment for the fields.  Sometimes though the rain was bad news during an already wet season.  Still in all cases, whether in times of drought or monsoons, the weather was out of our hands.  I was always surprised that my dad got more upset over NC State making a mistake on the football field or basketball court than he did over the weather not going according to his plans.  I suppose he knew what most of us have a hard time accepting.  Some things you just can’t change.  As my mother has reminded me many times:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain! -Vivian Greene

Since when did we start dreading these rainy days?  Rain brings life.  Rain helps us appreciate the sunshine.  Rain even washes the pollen away – much to the delight of all the allergy sufferers.

As all good farmers know, it takes a proper balance of rain and sun and good soil and a keen eye to bear the proper fruits of a harvest.  And throughout it all, without patience, we might not ever see a seed grow to become a tall tree.  Remember that God always has one of three answers:  •  No  •  Not yet  •  I have something better in mind

Embrace the rain people!  Let your hair get wet every once in a while.  Who cares if your gorgeous locks get frizzy?  As one sweet four year old once told me, “Ms. Amber your hair is fluffy like a puppy!”  Thanks for those sweet reminders, little ones.

Rain related scripture:  Isaiah 45:8;    Matthew 7:24-27;    Jeremiah 51:16;    Job 28:20-28

Ever run a marathon?

As of today by 12pm in Raleigh, NC about 8,500 people crossed the finish line in the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and half-marathon.  I imagine for many of the participants, this was a an item that they can now cross off their bucket list.  I personally have never aspired to run in a marathon.  I think my legs and lungs would give out well before I reached the 26.2 mile mark.  However, I was fortunate enough this morning to be stopped in traffic due to the race course.  As I was sitting somewhere along Gorman Street, I couldn’t help but notice the expressions of those passing by.  Before I realized it, I was drawn in.  Some were wearing crazy outfits.  Some traveled in pairs.  Some were by themselves.  Some ran, some walked, others shuffled along at a pace that fell somewhere in between.  Some wore smiles.  Some had a mixture of sweat and tears rolling down their face.

Rocknroll marathon

Photo courtesy of Chris Baird / WRAL Contributor

As I observed these ordinary people, I noticed that very soon I was the one with tears in my eyes.  These were not professional athletes like I had imagined would be the only type of person willing to succumb their body to that level of stress.  No, these were mothers, fathers, community members, your average Joes.  And it would seem all of them, no matter what walk of life they came from – they all had a reason they were running.

Once traffic started moving again and I had dried my tears, I began to notice other players in this marathon.  Standing and sitting on the side of the road were volunteers and neighbors passing out water and constantly cheering the participants on.  For all the hate that exists in the world, I could see none in that moment.  The tears came back just as easily.  And all this I observed from behind the steering wheel, sitting in the middle of the road on my way to church.  It was as if God reached out and said, “Look at my creation.  Aren’t they amazing?”

I once asked a friend if he admired man-made art or nature more.  His response was that he admired God’s creation most.  Yes, I think that sums up how I felt this morning.  I’m sure God is also proud of us from time to time.

Congratulations to all the runners who dared take on the triple H threat that is Raleigh: heat, humidity, and hills. (Plus there’s the pollen which can do a number on your sinuses!)  You obviously fought the good fight and finished the race strong.  May we all be inspired by the purpose behind your endeavors.

Racing themes in scripture:  2 Timothy 4:7;    1 Corinthians 9:24;     Philippians 3:14;     Isaiah 40:31