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The Spelling Bee

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I am not holding a grudge.  Honestly.

I do, however, hold a memory in my head of the day I lost a spelling bee.

There was a stage, lots of chairs, and lots of excellent spellers.

I loved spelling bees – especially this one – you had to be special to get there.

You had to be a top speller from your grade at your elementary school – mine was 5th grade.

I don’t remember what I wore, I don’t remember being nervous, but I most certainly remember that a certain boy from another school and I were the last ones standing.

Perhaps we spelled a few words each before it happened, but it happened – I spelled my word incorrectly.

The real problem though was that he spelled it correctly.

The word was government, and just to be honest here?  It was on the 6th grade word list, which I never received to memorize.  So, yes, I blamed my teacher.

The funny thing about all this is, is that I remember that boy’s name.  Mostly because it was an unusual last name and actually kind of cool for a kid in our small town.  I thought his last name sounded like Tchaikovsky – the famous composer.

I learned this:

He won, I lost, and I was no longer a perfect speller.

No, I don’t hold grudges, but I hold on to perfection.  Most days I struggle with my imperfection.

I lose sight of a goal much easier to handle – I am not meant to be perfect, Christ is.

I am made perfect through Him and only through Him.

I am a firm believer that everything – even losing a 5th grade spelling bee – happens for a reason.

Perfection in this world is unreachable.  Holiness, humbleness, brokenness, thankfulness, etc. are possible and attainable.

Expanding our vocabulary is possible – with or without good spelling skills.

Receiving grace from God and spreading it around requires willingness, not perfection.

Accept His Grace, be willing, and spread it.

Drop perfection OFF as you walk across the stage and move forward with your life… Start now.

 

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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Life, in general, Love

 

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The Holiday Season ~OR~ Hold On To Your Hats!

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Take a deep breath ~ Relax

You are about to have an imperfect holiday season.  Trust me.

Are you ready?  Are you all geared up?

Before the extra Halloween candy is bought and dispersed and consumed..

{the panic and the rush begin}

I know this because I’m really adept at observing the junk mail and the internet.  My mailbox has been filling with innocuous flyers and the news has begin to whisper the dreaded words of “Early Holiday Shopping”

{Run, Run NOW!}

~I’m going to apologize here and now – this might become a rant of sorts~

Have we all become stark-raving mad?  (Rhetorical question, of course)

In a season of thankfulness, how can we possibly be thankful and enjoy ourselves when we feel the pressure coming on as we start filling our calendars with?? …

office parties

ornate meals

gift purchasing and giving

church decorating

home decorating

mailing cards

school plays

church plays

extra choir music, rehearsals and performances

We really have to “pick our battles” here… or where we can best spend our time or things can get out of hand…and everyone ends up tired or aggravated or both.

**I’ll take a pause right here**

  **A quick sanity check if I might**

I would have gotten this written and finished last week except I had to add an emergency to all those things that HAVE to be done because the refrigerator broke.  (and of course, it involved WATER leaking)

I quickly shopped and found a new one.  It was delivered today while I was trying to do laundry.  (I’m purposely ignoring that last, wet, heap in the washer right now that beckons me to hang it up)

Now I’m tired.  Mostly for having to remove and replace all my magnets.  The food too, although I had “HELP” from the kids.  Thank goodness they are off this week and underfoot – how else would I know it was almost Thanksgiving???

**Another sanity check**

Did I mention that a change in plans means I’ll be shopping for {last minute} and cooking Thanksgiving dinner?  I am, and I just found out last night.  It’ll be ok, the kids said I could drink the sparkling grape juice while we cook together.

I think I need a blood pressure check, or perhaps I could just have an anxiety attack now, before the stress induces it?  I mean, if we are scheduling things for every day… why not an anxiety attack?

Please don’t get me wrong here … I love the holiday season -Thanksgiving AND Christmas.  I enjoy feasts and gifts and spending the day in the pajamas if necessary.  I really love letting loose and playing games all day or building with Legos.

I enjoy decorating a tree and adding extra lights around the house to take the edge off of the dark evenings.  And lighted garland?  Oh, I wish I could hang it everywhere – or even better…get some of the real stuff that emits that lovely {real} pine aroma.

But I’m tired.  Already.

Just thinking about some of the holiday stress of the past gives me a case of the “vapors.”

Thankfully, I gave up that list a few years ago.  I learned that if we were going to squeeze in family time, it had to come first.  And I mean – only relatives living under this roof – usually.  Because those days of having them sleep, shower, and eat here  – those days are seriously running short.

And when I began to focus on salt dough ornaments, or sugar cookie baking here at home… the importance of family drew very precious.  Next thing you know, we were making cookie dough from scratch instead of the refrigerated kind.  It tastes so much better and it’s worth the extra time.

My advice?  Pick your events wisely.  Go about your activities with a good attitude and less rush and those memories will last longer in everyone’s mind.  Seriously…Take a DEEP BREATH before you grab the keys and the casserole.  There will be way more smiles, laughs and silliness to look back upon for years to come.  And occasionally some really goofy gifts and weird food.

I’d like to share an excellent recipe for sugar cookies … be sure to make this ahead of time and that way you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and take it out when you are ready to make the cookies – even a week later!

Sugar Cookies – shaped or dropped

1 ½ Cup confectioners’ sugar

1 Cup butter

1 Egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

2 ½ Cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

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Cream Sugar and Butter with mixer

Add Egg and Mix until blended

Add Extracts and Mix until blended

Combine dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar

Add dry ingredients gradually into Wet mixture

Roll into large ball and wrap in plastic wrap

**Chill minimum 3 hours****Can prepare Days Ahead**

Set dough out for about 30 minutes

Flour surface and work chunks of dough until soft

 Roll out and Cut (not too thin)

Lightly grease cookie sheets

 *Bake in Oven at 375°  10-12 minutes

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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Holidays, Life, in general

 

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Arizona, or Another Trip Down Memory Lane

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The Union Public House

www.uniontucson.com

Going home to Pennsylvania is becoming a regular occurrence.  Arizona, on the other hand … now that’s a different story.

I spent 4 1/2 years living in the desert as a teenager – and graduated from high school there – before moving to North Carolina.  It’s been almost three decades since I moved, but I still have friends there.  And that means I needed a visit… so a little belated birthday trip to the Sonoran desert was an excellent plan for this year’s celebration.  A little sun, some hiking, some springtime desert blooms to admire, and at least one really good sunset.

And it was – {A really great sunset}

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Dinner out on Friday was a planned event.  Just ask Facebook.  In fact, it was so well planned that we accidentally had two postings for it.  Oops.  We all arrived separately, and not all on time… which meant we’d be waiting a while for our table, but it was a good way to start the dinner.  Warming up with conversation.

To begin with, there were four of us seated on a brown leather couch that was literally 12 feet long – we only took up the end and a small table.  We were waiting to be seated when someone started in on “Who was your first kiss?”  Or was it “Do you even KNOW who my first kiss was?”  Some drinks were delivered and an appetizer had arrived … and I knew – this was going to be an interesting evening.

Two more joined us and then the six of us were finally seated at our table on the patio.  Twenty-nine years had passed since I had seen most of them, and everyone was taking their turn telling their stories. The stories were varied – ranging from girly and giggly, shocking or sad.  Ups, downs, diseases, cures, surviving, and unfortunately…deaths of classmates.  Oh, yes, and that whole “who was your first kiss” thing came up again, complete with data phones, Facebook friend’s lists and trying to track down the “guy.”  I know who it is now, but my lips are sealed!

It started with the Swedish American, formerly a Ford’s model, who talked at great length about some very interesting life experiences.  She was a tag-a-long friend of one of my classmates.  Even the story of how the two of them met was great.  She was hilarious and interesting and I believe somewhat tipsy.

Without using any names, I’ll call one by her choice of entrée… she was “Miss chicken and waffles.”  She made me feel right at home and I think she had me laughing the hardest… A few years ago I found out that some of her family lived nearby in rural Alabama … which of course, just makes the world a little smaller … and “Miss chicken and waffles”  – well, let’s just say, I loved sitting next to her … she has the most beautiful soul.

The gathering was missing a few who promised to come, but I think it turned out perfect the way it was.  Sometimes just 5 or 6 make an excellent party… there’s more time to talk, share, and truly get to know people.  The infamous story of how two of us set the lab desks on fire with the alcohol burners in Physical Science class was told, and the laughter and fun was shared easily around this table.  Looking around, it almost seemed like a table of strangers…some of us barely knew each other.  But, common ground of the years spent in high school never leave you.  Maybe we just had one class together, but it didn’t matter at all.  We were there together that night, 29 years later … laughing, sharing, comforting and building on what we started all those years ago…

I find it appropriate that our school motto – Más Allá – translates into “Go Beyond.”  I think we accomplished that, by continuing beyond the campus of Canyon Del Oro High School as friends, nearly three decades later.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Jump

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Going…

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Going…

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Gone

*sigh*

Well, let’s just jump right into this week’s Five Minute Friday by saying… I’m at my desk writing already this morning and my fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts.

I was just visiting Arizona and came home and had to jump back in where life left off.  Laundry hampers full, fridge sort of half full, pantry in decent shape, and WHEW, am I tired!

Plugging along at the everyday work here at the house kept me from taking a 3 day nap – because I was exhausted from travel and hiking and talking and watching sunsets and walking at high altitude on Mt. Lemmon and eating.  {Boy, I had the best piece of pie at a restaurant up there}

But I’m done jumping around here trying to catch up, and it’s time to download all that has happened in that 5 day trip.  I finally have a clear schedule, and maybe a clear mind to type and reflect.  And I’m excited.

 Although… I’m wanting one more day … to bask in the sun, amongst the blooming desert, hiking Sabino Canyon, and laughing with old friends …

And another day living without the laundry, the threat of severe weather, or those pesky allergies …

Reality, then vacation, then reality …

Memories…into words…words on to paper…etched forever…

Jump up for more coffee and a shower and some food and more writing that needs to be done today!

Have an excellent Friday everyone!

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Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Five Minute Friday – After

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After all these years…

Brian tosses me into the air over and over again.  I can’t get enough and I squeal “Do! Gain! Mo!” which in my little tiny toddler voice means do it again, more.

No matter how many candles are on my cake, I will never get those words out of my mind.  They are on the tip of my tongue at every family gathering and have to be one of THE best memories of my childhood.

My brother seems to like that memory the best as well.  He reminds me of it every time he has a chance.  It doesn’t matter that I’m 47 and he’s 57 and that I was probably 2 when I first started saying it.  These memories and that kind of time just stands still in a family.

The time when we all lived under one roof.

The time when we all shared one bathroom.

The time when we all ate at the same dining room table.

I was the baby of 5 kids and they all apparently thought that I was “their” baby.  I hear all sorts of stories about my arrival into the family and how everyone watched after me.  I also hear my sister and brothers point the finger at who was the first one to drop me.

And after all these years… it never gets old.  The retelling and the warmth of those memories… they’ll be ours forever.

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Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 
 

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Five Minute Friday – Remember

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In a thousand ways I remember.

It’s one of the hardest words I deal with in my life.  It’s painful, and it’s full of loss, and it’s joy.

This morning it’s full of tears – streaming down my face onto this notebook of mine as I deal with constant reminders of things I’ll never forget.

Someone once explained that quite possibly significant memories are marked in your brain by the outpouring of adrenaline that occurs at an event.

I’m at no loss in the adrenaline department.

Once it was loss – of a Mother – when none of us saw it coming.  I remember dropping to the floor in disbelief and crying out.

Once it was the loss – of a friend – who struggled for years against cancer.  I remember the sorrow of her passing and the sweetness of her walk with the LORD.

I remember those crazy days of childbirth and the complete exhilaration and joy.

I remember the loss of the ones who have chosen to walk out of my life leaving me with empty arms.

I remember the excitement of buying our first house and all the fun times we had with my children there in those years.

I remember Germany, and the vivid and plentiful memories.  I feel like we lived there yesterday and not 12 years ago.

Most of all, I know that when I forget things, and I feel like I’m losing some precious memories these days… that there are a thousand people who will never let me forget … and that brings hope and joy.  I’m not the only one who remembers …

Deep, Deep Joy. 

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Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Saturday’s Sweetness

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Oh, the smell…and the warmth!!  My kitchen is a Christmastime delight.  It wasn’t about writing or reading today – nothing came to my mind, or needed to be said when I went to my writing space.  There was, however, a ball of dough wrapped like a gift in my fridge waiting … waiting to be warmed, kneaded, floured and rolled.  Oh, and cut, with the cute little cutters that have been waiting on my counter all week!  The sweet smell wafting from the oven, the timer chiming repeatedly, the rolling, cutting, and placing them on the cookie sheet, all in a sweet dance back and forth about the kitchen.

It was about me, in the kitchen, feeling pain in my neck and simultaneously feeling an exceedingly warm joy inside my soul.  I had arrived – my appointed time and place to make cookies – finally!  It might seem trivial, but on some days this is declared as a major accomplishment in my mind.  Doing something I love to do, regardless of my body’s limitations that nag at me.

Making the kitchen my focus, I listened to Christmas music and ruminated in my mind over the box of old pictures that arrived in yesterday’s mail.  The box contained a collection of photographs which are the last of the parental household belongings that needed to be divided and sent out to my siblings and myself.  Pictures that brought great memories of childhood, birthdays, holidays, old friends and family members.  Priceless memories.

So, somewhere in the midst of this “cookie day” focus in my kitchen, I had time to reflect in the quiet and realize this cookie day tradition was absorbed from my husband’s family.  A merging of family memories and traditions into my own personal household on this day, made me smile.  A deep, fulfilling joy in my soul, which smelled a lot like sugar cookies, was greatly present.

I had to have my hands busy to activate my mind to write what’s on my soul.  Where’s a picture that shows you the flour on my hands, pen and page?  It’s literally here, all over my notebook and on my apron and all over the counter.  It’s sweetness that is being dripped, poured out, measured and flung around till it escapes from my soul through my hand, into the pen and onto the paper…

Tomorrow I will remind myself to “have courage to write, have the courage to remember the memories that seem too difficult to handle, and to have courage to do the things that need to be done.”  Tomorrow will be another opportunity to leave behind a memory or a tradition for my children and their families that are still yet to be…

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Christmas

 

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