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

Transformation

transformation

I’ve had a few changes in my life recently.  Nothing dramatic, but it has served to change my perspective somewhat.  Among my latest updates have been newly pierced ears, a shorter haircut, a new smartphone (all of my previous phones were flip phones), and a new residence.  So far, I’m handling the changes pretty well.  To me, these small adjustments represent an outward sign of an inward commitment to change the way I do life.  Sometimes I am so determined and focused on a certain activity that I limit myself by spending the majority of my time and energy towards that particular facet of my life.

Perhaps college has caused this change of thinking.  In high school, I hardly ever had extensive homework.  After all, there were rarely enough textbooks for the entire class, so realistically, take-home readings couldn’t be assigned.  The hardest part of high school was just making it through the long school day.  Because school didn’t take up much of my evening and weekend time, I felt free to do all sorts of other things:  acting, dancing, volunteering, babysitting, traveling, etc.

And then I went to college.  The class time didn’t feel as long, but there were certainly more homework, more independent studying, and more responsibilities.   Now suddenly, I had more free time than ever.  I could choose to spend that time reading, writing, and studying OR I could choose to use my time in other ways, like hanging out with friends, surfing the internet, or going out to parties.  All of the latter activities I frankly felt to be wasted time, given that I was a full-time student with scholarships on the line and my own reputation as a good student at stake.  Therefore, I committed my whole existence to doing everything right academically.  Do the assigned readings; turn homework in on time; meet the professors during office hours; write a paper; revise a paper; study the material discussed in class; ask good questions during lecture; answer instructors’ questions during class; etc.  But that life can get dull after a while.  It will make you crazy.

In the past couple of years, it seems I lost sight of what was truly important.   Now with newfound determination and clarity, I am endeavoring to change that.  I am hoping the change of scenery and pace in the coming season will help to elucidate my forthcoming decisions.

Life is Always Interesting

Life is always interesting, especially for those of us who make sure to keep it that way.  Apparently I have one of those faces that people are instantly attracted to… Maybe it’s the innocence in my heart or my welcoming countenance or even the eagerness in my eyes – but whatever it is, quite often I find myself making friends and finding admirers in the unlikeliest of places.  In fact, last weekend was filled with such experiences.  (If you’d like to know more of the specifics, you can fill out a contact form here. I’ll do my best to answer any of your questions.)

A little personal insight into my life:  Not long ago, I was involved in a serious relationship that everyone (including me) thought was leading to marriage.  As it turns out, our two souls were not being knit together in quite the way I had imagined, and the relationship, as we had known it, ended.    The thought of losing a friend distressed me more than knowing I had lost a lover.  Of course, there was a healing process involved.  Most people will experience these feelings of love and loss, and it’s not an unfortunate happening at all.  We can actually learn a lot from these events.  However, I have come to find that having hope and a close friend and the prospect of new love certainly helps us view the situation in a more positive light.

Budding relationships certainly give us hope in many cases.  As it turns out, it doesn’t take much for me to feel like I’m falling in love with someone.  If you combine genuine compliments with good conversation and laughing and then throw in some elegant dancing, chances are I will fall pretty hard for you.  Of course, it’s not altogether unreasonable for me to feel twitterpated by these actions since my primary love languages are words of affirmation and quality time.  Still, feeling everything so deeply can lead to hurt feelings when reality isn’t quite as you imagined it.

A friend recently remind me of the old adage, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”  I find this statement to be true in romance and many other regards as well.  If we can accept that some things are just the way they are, then why does it hurt so much to want something or someone that you cannot have – that society deems unacceptable?

Scripture says, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young; instead, be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).  Of course, we could just as easily substitute the word “young” with other labels… Do not let anyone look down on you because you are old, male, female, black, white, gay, straight, rich, poor…  Why must such labels hold us back?  Why are there barriers?  Why can’t we love whom we wish without fear of rejection?  I can’t solve all the world’s problems but I can make a difference one life at a time.   We’re all different – all unique individuals with special gifts.  Imagine how that line of thinking would change our daily interactions: viewing every life as a precious thing and cherishing the moments we have with all kinds of people.  I’m going to try to live like that.

All Things Happen for a Reason

And another Throwback Thursday post.


This I believe.  All things happen for a reason.  The bad and the good are all part of God’s plan.  While I’d like to believe this is solely a Christian concept, I know that many religions have this philosophy.  I have never experienced as much pain and heartache as some in this world.  Nonetheless, I still have bad days.  And on these bad days, I lean on my faith and my God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ICB) says, “God certainly does everything at just the right time.”  There are moments when I wish I knew why.  “Why?” always seems to be the hardest question to answer.  Many times I try to console myself with the answer I already know.  “How, when, and what” are all attempts to fill the void that was once in my heart.  It is human nature to want to know all the answers.  However, there comes a point when faith – being certain of what we cannot see – is necessary.  My whole life I have been taught that negative experiences will make me stronger in the end.  I have treasured this in my heart.  This is a truth I can stand by and hope for.

As I have matured I have discovered many gifts that God gave me.  One of these gifts is the gift of belief.  Many would see this as a pitfall, but I do not.  Because I believe, I trust what I have been taught.  I know that God is always taking care of me, no matter what happens.  This is why I will always believe that all things happen for a reason.

Positive Effects of Stress

This is a Throwback Thursday post of sorts.  The following essay was written back in 2011, during the days of high school.  I found it somewhat inspiring as I was reading through my old papers.  Perhaps you too will be inspired to view the stress in your life differently…


Stress is often described with a negative connotation. We complain that our stress is causing insomnia, worry, and gray hair, but we don’t stop to think about the benefits of stress. Throughout my life, stress has had innumerable positive effects. Thanks to stress I have become more efficient, felt more accomplished, and learned to appreciate life for all it’s worth.

If stress is defined as being unbearably busy and worn out, then I have definitely experienced stress. When one is given a lot of work with little time to do it, stress is inevitably created. “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it.” While this saying is ironic, it also tells a shocking truth: Stressed, busy people are more efficient with their time. Stress has taught me the important skill of time management. This great benefit of stress is essential to my success in the future.

Contrary to what others believe, stress makes me feel good. Stress gives me confidence. Some may find it strange, but many others feel the way I do. When I am busy I feel I am accomplishing worthwhile tasks. I also know that to feel stress from these tasks, I must care about what I am doing. IF I invest my time, energy, and worry into something to the point that it causes stress, then I know it is important to me. Stress reminds me that I am helping others and carrying out my responsibilities. This is why stress makes me confident.

Probably the most important effect that stress has had on my life is learning to appreciate everything. Stress can sometimes fog our minds with worries. However, if we just look past all the concerns we can find treasure in stress. Just as water tastes delicious after you’ve taken a long run, so does relaxing after experiencing stress. It seems that we appreciate things more when we haven’t had the luxury of having them. When we stop to smell the roses, stress becomes less overwhelming. Watching the sun set in the midst of stress can also be calming. Stress has helped me learn to love the things I would easily overlook.

Like medicine, stress may have some unwanted side effects, but it will help you in the long run. Stress has given me some key qualities to being successful. Thanks to stress I have become more efficient, felt more accomplished and learned to appreciate life for all it’s worth. As Doctor Hans Sel said, “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.” I choose to let stress affect me positively. Maybe one day everyone will allow stress to be beneficial to them too.

It Was the Busiest of Times…

FACS

It’s funny how we tend to be most productive when we have the least amount of time to do things.  This past weekend – the whole week really- has been a whirlwind for me.  I’ve had assignments to turn in, classes to observe, situations to correct, decisions to make – the works!  But was I stressed?  Not very much.  Were there late nights?  Of course.  Was I tired throughout the day?  Yes, at times.  And did I manage do get it all done and to my satisfaction?  For the most part, yes.

As busy as the week had been, I had started to dread the conference that I knew I would be attending this weekend.  After all, I was lacking even the energy to stay awake through two full days of workshops, not to mention the energy that would be required to put my best professional foot forward and network with old and new colleagues.  However, I am pleased to say that after making it through the weekend conference I am feeling inspired.  Yes, inspired is truly the word!  It reawakened some passions within me that I had forgotten in the chaos of the past couple years.  I’m also in more of a reflective mood after this conference.  I’m not sure what my future holds, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

Some topics at the conference included childhood obesity, civil rights in education, children’s love language, and the trends of the 21st century.  All were very fascinating to me.  The biggest surprise of the weekend?  I was elected secretary/treasurer for the upcoming year.  Other pleasant surprises were the unexpected goodies, yummy food, and intimate moments around the dinner table with friends and colleagues (who felt more like family this weekend.)  I am so thankful for the connections I have made not just as a result of this conference, but because people have taken the time to invest in my life and encourage me to take advantage of opportunities such as this.