Thursday, November 27, 2008

13.1 in Numbers (and Pictures)...(and Words)

13.1 = miles in a half-marathon
3 = hours of sleep that I got prior to getting up this morning to run 13.1 miles
47 = minutes we waited around outside in the cold before beginning the race
600 = milligrams of ibuprofen I took this morning prior to the run (quite possibly my best decision of the day)
37 = songs that played on my iPod during the race
11 = mile in which both quads and my calves cramped up all at the same time
2 = half-marathons that I ran in 2008
6.5 = minutes LESS that I ran today than I ran at the ING in March

I'll be honest. Last night at 1:01 when I looked at the clock one last time before falling asleep I questioned not only my sanity but my ability to begin a half-marathon in less than 6 hours. At 4:14 when I dragged out of bed this morning, I was a bundle of nerves. I was frustrated with myself for not preparing better. I remembered how cold my hands were last time and the pain that my feet were in for days after the ING. So I did what anyone with such positive thoughts would do; I got in the car and headed over to Val's with my Carnation instant breakfast, bagel and banana in tow. Her parents were kind enough to drive us down to the ATL, but before leaving we had a mini photo shoot...
You can see from this picture that I wasn't kidding about getting three hours of sleep. I was not bright-eyed. I'm so glad that I have a friend like Valerie. She is always around to help me with the difficult things in life...
After a quick and traffic free ride into the city, we found ourselves standing in a dark parking lot surrounded by porta-potties with a few thousand of our closest running friends...
Valerie is kind of a rockstar when it comes to running half-marathons. She definitely finished before I did.
It was probably my headband that slowed me down...
Highly unlikely. That headband and my mittens made my little stroll so much more enjoyable though, I wouldn't care if they did slow me down. When running, I refuse to look at my watch until I get to a mile-marker, but I got really nervous shortly after starting. Generally I can pace myself pretty well so I have kind of idea of how far I've run in a period of time, but I had yet to see a mile marker so I thought "geez, if we haven't even run a mile yet, I'm never going to finish this thing." The Columbo boys from North Georgia had passed me pretty quickly with their rucksacks on their backs so I was not feeling too confident. But then I determined that they are Hooah and I'm not so much so they should be able to run with rucksacks on their backs. A few seconds later though I saw Mile Marker 2...hallelujah! And then 3...and then 4...and then I made it to the Wachovia building at Mile 5. Before too long I was at Phipps and Lenox (even though I missed the great tree!) and then the most fun thing happened...I saw Maggie's husband, Wes, and her sister, Ashley, just up ahead so I caught up to say hello. We were quickly approaching the infamous hill in the Peachtree known as Cardiac Hill which I was not excited about in the least. It was at this point that I had to slow to a slight crawl, but I was still on track to beat my previous half-marathon time. Honestly I was shocked. But I still had 6 miles to go so I tried not to get too optimistic. By Mile 10 though I knew that barring any major snafu, I would beat my first time. Major snafu being something like me falling in a pothole or getting hit by oncoming traffic or something else such as my quads and calves all cramping up at the same time with just under 2 miles to go. But that would never happen so I was golden. And then exactly that happened. And I wanted to cry. But I didn't because there's no crying in half-marathon running. Besides the tears would be cold on my face. So I forged along and prayed and was thankful for the Jesus music that happened to shuffle into play on my iPod.
Even though I missed pretty obvious and blatant landmarks such as these that I ran past because I was so "in the zone"...
I was never more happy to see this...
because I knew that the end was definitely near. This fact could only mean one thing: that I was just moments from getting this...We Made It! Maybe I'm good for 2 half-marathons per year, after all.

Note: Special thanks to Valerie's mom, Brenda, for many of the great pictures you see here in this post!

Give Thanks Always

This time last year I was thankful for the following: airplanes, a new zip code, the University of Georgia, Dad "kicking the habit", my memory, new friends, old friends, my broken heart, my new computer speakers at work, and God's grace. Turns out I'm still thankful for all of the aforementioned things, plus a few more. entire family, my puppy, and my job (and the sense of security that goes along with it in these "uncertain economic times"). Today specifically I am also thankful for things like mittens, ibuprofen, good lungs and a strong heart, Burt's Bees lip balm, pain relieving muscle cream, and feet and legs that carry me places...but more on that in my next post.
The truth is, God has blessed me with so much that if I tried to count every single blessing, inevitably I would miss one (or 100). So today (I had a couple of hours this morning to think about this), I determined that throughout this next year I would try to show my gratitude and appreciation for people in my life, acts of kindness and goodwill by these people as well as the tangible things that I am blessed with not just on this day that is set aside for the purposes of acknowledging such blessings but each and every day. (perhaps you all should be thankful that I'm not an English teacher with that run-on sentence)

I mentioned earlier that I'm thankful for my entire family, and we all had the opportunity to gather together last night at Aunt Janie and Uncle Hugh's house for Thanksgiving Dinner. My thankfulness even goes for the ones like him..
With this kind of behavior, obviously he married into the family. We love him anyway though. And he is at least half responsible for some pretty cute kids like this one...
You see, in my family we like to start the talent competitions on the "stage" at a young age and if you can't measure up, well then...
Actually we do have talent in our family in the form of baby cousin Justin. Ok, he's not really a baby anymore, but he's my only cousin who is younger than me so he gets to keep the title. Doesn't he just have the guitar-player look about him?
Or maybe I just think that because he has on jeans with a hole in them. Never mind the fact that he closely resembles Justin Timberlake and they have the same name. Fame is written in the stars for this boy. After the family Thanksgiving dinner we performed a much needed exorcism...
Ok, so actually this isn't funny because after I uploaded this picture I realized that you can't see that every single one of them had some majorly creepy red-eye going on. Getting these children to pose nicely on the stairs (question: why do the adults always make the children pose on the stairs for pictures? Or is that something specific to my family?) was much like herding cats. See...
Meanwhile, as the small children are running amuck on the steep stairs, two sets of parents and their great-grandmother are awestruck over the wonders of the internet...
While all of this was taking place around me, I was busy carb-loading for my big run the next morning...
I'm pretty sure that pound cake doesn't contain the kind of carbs real runners load up on the night before a race, but I'm not really a real runner so it's ok. Besides, I was in good company because Simon likes carbs too...Now if only he would just like people. Happy Thanksgiving!

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Your Tastebuds Will Give Thanks

I was inspired by my friend and co-worker who procrastinates to blog about my cake baking adventure that I embarked upon last night. Fact: I love to bake. It's just that I do not do it all that often because I prefer to stay in a single digit pants size. However, there's no time like the holidays to break every rule your mama every taught you about skipping desserts and practicing portion control. So my contribution to the family Thanksgiving meal this year is a Five Flavor Pound Cake.
Here are my thoughts on pound cake: They are kind of like the girl next door. You know...they are always around and they aren't bad by any means at all, but they are just so normal. So common. So boring. So not Tiramisu Cheesecake with Brandy or something else equally as exciting. But the truth is, sometimes the girl next door has another side to her and the same goes for this pound cake thanks to the influence of the fab five (and I'm not talking about Jordan, Jon, Donnie, Danny, and Joe)...
But in order for something to be truly good, it must have some substance to it...In fact, I probably have a little more "substance" myself after eating cake batter for dinner last night so maybe I'm a better person now. Or something like that. It's important to provide a firm foundation as well... order to be prepared for the unexpected...I'll be honest, the last time I made this cake was a few years ago, and I did so using Val's KitchenAid Stand Mixer. This means that I went into the whole project last night a little hesitant about the ability to produce a good cake without the wonder appliance that is the KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Is it wrong to want a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer as badly as I want one? Probably so when there are people in foreign countries wanting something like their next meal just as badly. So I forged on with my standard hand mixer and well, you can see for yourself how it turned out...

In the words of my grandmother, "it's good even if I did bake it." Or at least the layer that overflowed the bundt pan is good. We'll have to wait until Wednesday night (because that's when my family has declared Thanksgiving will be this year) to find out about the rest.

As with anything I do, it seems that there is always a lesson to be learned, and this proved to be no different. Word of advice: If you happen to own a 7 month old Chocolate Lab puppy who happens to live indoors with you, it's not enough to keep him out of the kitchen while you are mixing up the ingredients and until the cake is actually in the oven. It's probably best to keep him out until you've done all the dishes too. Unless you want him to do the dishes for you... I have no idea who he learned this from. At least I mind my manners and use my finger to scrape the bowl. But now I need a new bowl to scrape.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Filled With the Spirit...

Christmas spirit, that is.

Confession: I've been listening to Christmas music all day long. For those of you who know me well, you are probably looking toward the eastern skies right about now. I'm a fan of Christmas music, but as previously stated, it's very much a seasonal thing for me and I don't really like to listen to it until after Thanksgiving. However I was scanning through the stations earlier today on my way home from the mall when I heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon. Oh how I love TSO. Too bad they were in Atlanta oh...last weekend. Needless to say I stopped scanning and let it play through. Then the craziest thing happened - I broke out HP's Holiday Hits (both volumes) and listened all the way home. Perhaps it's a combination of the temperature this morning being in the 20's, the back-to-back Christmas movies on The Hallmark Channel that I always get sucked in to during this time of year, and hearing Christmas Canon in the car that has contributed to this early onset of Christmas cheer. I take back all the harsh words I've said about Christmas music being played prematurely. Play away. In moderation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Doggie Doping

On Wednesday I dropped Cash off at the Athens Regional Spay and Neuter Clinic and needless to say, he will never be the same. Yesterday morning when I went to pick him up, one of the staff members reviewed the post-op instructions with me and I was with her until she said "No running, jumping, or rowdy playing for the next 7-10 days and keep him indoors." Being the Labrador Retriever that he is, I'm pretty sure that we were home for maybe 7 minutes before he felt the need to jump up and "retrieve" something from the kitchen counter.

Last night I was able to keep him relatively still by feeding him. However it's probably not the best I idea I've ever had to give him a Kong full of peanut butter, 2 servings of Frosty Paws and a 30" bully stick in addition to his regular meal and treats in a matter of about 4 hours. Besides if he continued to eat at that rate for the next 7-10 days, I would have to get a second job.

So today I'm trying a new approach: I'm drugging him. Now I'm not a proponent of drugs, but if I've got to keep this dog relatively contained for any period of time at all, one of us has to be on them. Earlier this afternoon I went to Target for the sole purpose of buying him his very own box of Benadryl. One hour and 50 mg later, he looks very much like this... Except he's in the floor where dogs belong instead of own my pillow where dogs don't belong, yet he always seems to find a way to get there whenever I get up in the morning. (Yes, I'm a pushover. Yes, I'm eating my words. Yes you all were right, Allison and Maggie...and Emily...and everyone else who said I would let him take over my bed.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not Even Theme Music Will Help Me Now

I'm running the Atlanta Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving. That's exactly one week from today for those of you who are ignoring the mass quantities of frozen turkeys and canned cranberry sauce at the grocery store. I ran my first one earlier this year in March and after crossing the finish line and scarfing down a celebratory buffalo burger from Ted's I determined that I was good to run one half-marathon per year. So it makes perfect sense that I am lacing up my Saucony's for another one 8 months later.

I followed a pretty strict training regiment to prepare for the first one up until the last couple of weeks before it when my training turned to watching TV and eating cookies. For this one, I've followed a pretty strict training regiment too, but unfortunately it has more to do with housebreaking my puppy. Somehow I don't think multiple trips up and down the stairs with a dog in tow is really going to benefit me all that much at mile 10.

Am I mentally and physically prepared? Absolutely not. Am I going to get out there on Thursday morning with my fellow ATLiens and give it my best? Heck yes I am. Am I going to be thankful for the mylar blanket that will be handed to me upon crossing the finish line? You betcha.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm It

I've never been tagged in the blogosphere until today, thanks to Lindsey! So the deal is for me to share 7 random things about myself, tag 7 blogging pals to do the same and in 7 days I'll get my check from Microsoft for $700,000. Ok, so I might have added the last part for effect. I can't promise that there won't be any overlap from last month's post where I shared more than anyone ever wanted to know about me, but I'll do my best. Here goes...

1. I have a ridiculous amount of shoes. 40 pairs in my closet, 1 pair that I'm wearing, and about 5 or 6 pairs under my bed. This is not information that I just know...I was organizing my closet earlier today and as I was trying to find a spot for them all, I took the liberty of counting my shoe blessings.

2. One of my goals in life is to own a red Volvo xc90 one day. Yes, it's a completely materialistic and superficial goal to have. I happen to have 1 or 2. Obviously I'm going to have to set my professional goals a bit higher to meet this one.

3. When I'm at the gym, I clean the workout equipment before using it as well as after using it. Apparently those 20/20 news specials about the MRSA bug made a lasting impression with me.

4. I love music and tend to get stuck listening to some of the same songs over and over for about a week or so. This week's most repeated are: Whatever You Like (TI), Womanizer (Britney...she's such a trainwreck - you know you shouldn't listen, but do it anyway), You're Beautiful (Phil Wickham), Already Gone (Sugarland), November Rain (Guns-N-Roses), Shattered (O.A.R.) and Mighty to Save (Hillsong). Let's just say that my iPod is a musical melting pot of sorts.

5. I had a false tooth for about a year when I was 5 because when I was a baby, I fell and chipped my tooth on a window sill. That was the last time my parents ever put sangria in my bottle. (just seeing if anyone is actually paying attention to what I write)

6. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I love the television show Reba. I can't stand Reba as a singer...that whole Does He Love you duet with Linda Davis kind of makes my skin crawl, but her tv show is absolutely hilarious.

7. My thumbs are double-jointed. And really there is no reason to share that kind of information unless I'm interviewing with the Circus to perform in a sideshow but I was all out of random things about myself for the day.

So now I'm supposed to tag 7 people and notify them by leaving a comment on their blog, but I don't have time to do that right now so hopefully they'll see this themselves. I'm tagging Suzanna and Maggie because we haven't heard from them in awhile and I'm of the belief that forced blogging is better than no blogging at all. Then I'm tagging Kate because well, she is a math teacher who surely has some spare time during her planning period to blog. Next is Amanda because she is my blogging pal who lives the farthest away. Then there are my blog followers: Chris and so happens that I follow their blogs too, just not formally. And finally Angel because I can think of nothing better that a mother of 3 between the ages of 1 month and 3 years has to do with her time. Come on everybody...join the fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

He's Come a Long Way Baby...

Remember this pitiful ASPCA poster puppy from only a few months ago?

Just look at him now...

That weekend at Mike Vick's training camp really did him a world of good. I'M KIDDING, people. Appreciate me for my sardonic humor if for nothing else.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week in Review

I hit a deer. Awesome.
The earliest I will finish grad school is December 2010. Super.
I spent 3 hours of my life last night/this morning at the Emergency Vet because my dog is apparently part billy goat. Fantastic.

Now for the good news...
My Shingles are gone. Awesome!
I discovered hot chocolate from Jittery Joe's. Super!
I slept until noon today. Fantastic!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Soapbox and The Shack

I'm finally back to share the riveting conclusion to my last post. ("Riveting" is used very loosely here.)

So, if you follow this blog regularly you might remember that in my last post I made the statement that one of my soapbox topics is "incredibly intelligent women who live with completely unrealistic expectations about how life should be or is going to be once _____ happens." Well the truth is, I've been one of them myself. Which is why it's uncomfortable for me to talk about this. Perhaps it's a little pretentious of me to classify myself as "incredibly intelligent" but considering that I'm a product of the state of Georgia public school system, there really is no other way to describe my intellect. Before I elaborate on how I've been a soapbox subject myself allow me to share a little history... (it's relevant, I promise)

I've never been the type of girl who felt it necessary to have a boyfriend at all times. That's not to say that I have always been the one who dictates my singleness (for lack of a better way to put it), but the thought of attending a wedding without a date doesn't cause me to automatically break out into hives or anything. There are some ladies in this world who live by the philosophy that dating anyone is better than dating no one, but not me. My grandmother tells me I'm too picky. My mama says I'm smart. I think I'm probably a little of both. I did reach a point in college though that I really struggled with being single. I'm pretty sure that at some point I was the only female student at North Georgia without a boyfriend. And even more unfair, some boys even had boyfriends! Of course I'm being dramatic when I say that I was the only one without a boyfriend, but there were days when it felt like that and I didn't like the feeling even a little bit. I determined that the reason for my singleness must certainly be because I had done something wrong in my life and I was being punished somehow so I started walking the straight and narrow a little straighter. This really was a great time in my life as far as my relationship with God and during this time I made some incredible friends as well.

Now I'm going to fast forward to about 4 years later. It was shortly after my whole life begins at 25 revelation so I was pretty high on life when he came long. By "he" I mean, him. You know, the him that every girl dreams of meeting. Guys have an equivalent named her. I took the approach of being cautiously optimistic in the beginning, but after a couple of months, I was smitten. There was a pretty major hurdle in the coming future that had to jumped but I saw it as being no problem whatsoever. I was ready to take on the challenge. Things were just going to be suspended for about a year or so, no big deal. We had discussed the matter thoroughly and were in agreement on how we would handle matters should something change so life was fantastic. Eight months later the hurdle became an abyss, and that's when I became the smart girl with unrealistic expectations. "He'll call when he gets his birthday present." "It will be different when he gets home." Oh, the list goes on. And for those of you who are wondering, no he wasn't in prison. The last thing he ever said to me was "I'll call you in a few days as soon as I get a chance." After about 3 months I finally accepted the fact that he wasn't going to call and stopped carrying my cell phone with me everywhere I went. But I still held onto the whole "it will be different when he gets home" mantra until I got an apology email from him a year later. I'm not here to bash him. I'm not here to ponder what went wrong. I'm not writing this only to have you all tell me what I know now but refused to see then. I'm writing this to share a little of what I did and how I felt during that very lonely and uncertain time in my life. And yes, I promise that it ties into The Shack.

I will be the first to admit that I have had a pretty easy and very blessed life thus far with only a few not-so-shining periods. This time in my life was definitely one of the rarer dark ones. I took complete responsibility for how things turned out between us and blamed only myself. (I'm really struggling with writing this because I want to make sure that I explain it correctly) Given the circumstances, there was nothing that I could have or would have done differently, yet it was still my fault. So the only "reasonable explanation" was that I had once again done something wrong in my life and things not working out was my punishment from God. Because he (the boy) had made promises to me and he would never break them so my circumstances at the time had to be some kind of punishment for something that I had done wrong somewhere along the way. It was the only thing that made sense.
Do you see a pattern forming? I had construed in my mind this idea that God was withholding the very thing that I wanted the most because of my sins. This could not be more ridiculous. I realize this now. I was raised Baptist...and in case you aren't aware, Baptists are all about the gift of grace. Obviously I had forgotten everything that I had ever been taught about grace and forgiveness through salvation. But this is how I felt and this is what I experienced. And I'm not the only one who has ever felt this way I know. For example, there is a couple in my hometown who lost their 5 month old to SIDS a couple of years ago. To this day, the mother still wonders what it was that she did so wrong in her life for God to take her baby from her as punishment. It's heartbreaking really, but anyone who knows the family and the love that they have for that baby knows that God would have never given them that baby and then taken it so soon as a form of punishment.

It's interesting how human nature makes it easier to think negatively instead of positively. But the truth is, God is not vindictive in the least. Yet we perceive him to be when we are faced with adversity. It's almost as if we feel that surely God must have some hidden agenda. He can't really be that loving and forgiving, can He? Yes, He is and He does love and forgive without making us "pay". I seems too good to be true even for me who accepted this gift of grace when I was 13. But as humans we don't have the capacity to love and forgive without condition like God does. I am now thankful for those single years in college because I feel like God was protecting me from the consequences of some potentially terrible decisions that I would have been very likely to make. It's nice to walk through life without having to drag all kinds of baggage along behind me. And obviously the one who I thought was my ideal is not God's ideal for me or it would've worked out. Hindsight is always 20/20. The whole premises of The Shack is basically what I've written in this paragraph. (not to spoil the ending for anyone or anything...I think that's pretty obvious from reading the back cover and reviews) So even though the wounds from my experience have healed, this book reconfirmed the realizations that I had come to when I was going through the healing process. I couldn't help but to think of those times in my life as I was reading it. I think that the book will speak differently to each person according to his or her circumstances in life. I also learned from the book that I often limit God in what He can do in my life because I have this idea and concept of who He is and what He does. Yet he is so much bigger than the biggest box that I try to put him in and can do so much more than my "incredibly intelligent" mind will ever be able to fully comprehend. What are you people still doing here? Why aren't you on your way to Borders to pick up this book and read it for yourself? Or you can borrow my copy if you ask nicely.

Before I end this though, I have another point to make. (and it kind of ties into the reason why I get on a soapbox in the first place) Did anyone notice what else I did in regards to him? I put all of my faith and all of my trust in a person instead of in God. I put my trust in the promises that he had made to me instead of the ones that God made. Somewhere along the way, my focus and priorities shifted completely and in order for any relationship to work, that cannot happen. In a way, it really wasn't fair to him that I did such a thing because that puts so much pressure on both people. The truth is, we are all human. We will all make mistakes. We will all disappoint the ones we love. We'll say and do things that we will eventually regret. But when God is first in our lives those disappointments aren't so hard to take. Broken trust can be regained. Mistakes can be forgiven. Hearts will heal. With God all things are possible. I have learned many valuable lessons out of my experience. Which supports my belief that God will bring good out of even the most difficult circumstances.

Please forgive my natural propensity towards verbosity. I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Once upon a time I had a roommate who pointed out during one of our countless conversations that I was very even keel when it came to matters. I rarely get worked up about much. It's true. I don't. That's the primary personality trait I inherited from my completely laid-back mother I believe. But every once in awhile I have soapbox moments. Take for instance ringback tones on cell phones. I loathe them. Don't get me wrong...I'm all about T.I.'s newest single but it's the last thing I want to hear when I'm returning phone calls at work. Primarily because I feel the need to bust out in random dance moves while on the job and I'm pretty sure that doesn't fit anywhere into the definition of professionalism. While I'm on the topic of music, I need to have a little chat with the person who deemed it appropriate to begin playing Christmas music on the radio the day after Halloween. To everything there is a season and Christmas music season officially begins on Thanksgiving Day in my world. Recently I've gotten up on my soapbox a couple of times about the feral cats in my apartment complex. Nobody likes feral cats except my dog. And he doesn't really like the cats per say, but he sure loves to "clean up" after them if you know what I mean. The first person who can give me a clear explanation as to exactly why dogs do that will be awarded a prize, by the way.

Over the past few days one of my favorite gal pals and I have been exchanging a series of emails regarding another topic that really gets me on a soapbox: incredibly intelligent women who live with completely unrealistic expectations about how life should be or is going to be once ____________ happens (a multitude of scenarios can fill in the blank, but in my observations most revolve around relationships). It frustrates me beyond measure and makes me sad for them all at the same time. Yesterday I spent much of the day thinking about this very subject (when I wasn't complaining to my co-worker, Erin, about how badly the stupid Crest Whitestrips that I had decided to try were making my teeth hurt), and then another gal pal and I got into a lengthy phone conversation about the same topic last night. Because you know, essentially the 3 of us have the world completely figured out and everyone should look to us as models of perfect decision makers. If there was ever a time that I needed you 4 readers out there to pick up on my sarcasm, it's here and now in that last sentence. Of course after hanging up the phone I had one of those moments. You know, the really convicting kind where the whole lesson about glass houses and throwing stones suddenly comes to mind. Who am I to determine what is "wise" or "unwise" regarding the decisions that other people make? And was I helping matters any by getting on my soapbox? Nope. Not in the least. Shouldn't I focus more on being a good example instead? Isn't that what we are called to do? I think so. All that to say that now I feel led to share a part of my story that you won't read much about here in the blogosphere. (Word to the wise: don't ever pray for transparency unless you have this burning desire to be very uncomfortable at times.) It has to do with matters of the heart, more specifically my heart, and oddly enough how The Shack has been instrumental in reassuring this little heart of mine and reaffirming my belief that God always works to the good of those who love Him. However this story is going to have to wait for a day or so because I'm tired and I feel like I need to bring my a-game for this one. So stay tuned, but not so tuned in that you forget to do things like eat and brush your teeth and go to work for the love of pete. It's really not exciting at all, but maybe just maybe someone will be a teensy bit encouraged by it. Hey, what's a girl got if she doesn't have hope?


Check out this website that I stumbled upon today. I spent at least 10 minutes of my otherwise productive workday in a completely unproductive manner browsing the selection of demotivational posters. I'll just call it my smoke break and move on. Absolutely hilarious...if your humor is a bit jaded and laced with a dash of cynicism, that is. I can't pick just one favorite, but felt it appropriate to share this one here...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...

an armistice went into effect which essentially ended the fighting during "The Great War" or what we know as World War I. This was in the year 1918 and many moons later in the year 1954, we began celebrating Veterans Day. Both of my grandfathers are veterans. So is one of my uncles. As are two of my cousins. Until the global war on terrorism that is currently being waged began 5 or so years ago, I honestly never really thought that much about Veterans Day. Sure, I knew that both of my grandfathers were in WWII and my uncle was in Vietnam but didn't everyone have grandfathers who faught in WWII and uncles who faught in Vietnam? In my mind, veterans were old men who fought in wars during a time long before I was even a figment of anyone's imagination and in places far, far away. I was far removed from the reality of war. Apparently I watched too many Miss America pageants as a child and somewhere along the way thought that the contestants' messages of World Peace had made an impression on the powers that be because I never imagined that my generation would be a generation of war veterans. Until 2003 happened and suddenly I knew people on the road to Baghdad. My former classmates. My friends. Fiances and boyfriends of some of my closest friends in the world. It put a whole new perspective on such matters for me when my peers became the ones who were responsible for leading Soldiers into battle and protecting the American people from harm. Sure, the fighting was taking place in a land far away but lives were impacted all around me. The word Veteran was no longer reserved for old men full of memories that took place years ago on foreign soil.

Now, I cannot say for sure, but I imagine that serving in the military is much like being a parent in the sense that it has potential to be a pretty thankless job. When I was growing up, my parents always provided for my every need (and most wants) without expecting anything from me in return. Did I ever think to tell them "Thanks" for things like food or school shoes or ballet lessons? Of course not. Yet they continued to do their job of parenting. I didn't really know what it was like to not have something. But when something went missing, who did I look to first to fix the problem? Dear old mom and dad. Well, the same goes for us living here in the United States. We don't know what it's like to not have the rights and privileges that we do. But if we woke up one morning and suddenly they were gone, who would we look to first and wonder what happened? Not mama and daddy, but Uncle Sam's nephews and nieces. Of course the people responsible for fighting for these freedoms we have lived a long time ago. However it's the generations that have followed who were and are responsible for maintaining them. I mean, one can't lose a bunch of weight and then immediately revert back to eating cookies and cheeseburgers and expect to keep the weight off right? It has to be maintained. The same goes for the protection of a nation. If we had no military, I imagine that we would all be saying things like oot and aboot or however it is that those crazy Canadians to our north say things. Or we'd all be taking an afternoon siesta between lunch and the end of the work day...ok, that might not be so bad. The point that I'm trying to make is that I think that we all have roles to play as Americans. If we aren't cut out for camo and combat boots, then we need to do our part to show our appreciation to those who are. So all that to say...Thanks. Thanks Pop and Papa and Uncle Hugh and Kyle and Kasey. Thanks friends. Thanks prospective student who I'm working with as he is making plans to get back into school next fall after he serves his last few months in Iraq. Thanks. And Happy Veterans Day.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Dahlonega Kind of Day

After looking at the weekend weather forecast on Friday, I decided that a trip to the mountains was in order for Saturday afternoon. It worked out perfectly since I was already going to be halfway there and Marley (Allison's dog) was very gracious to allow Cash to hang out on the bottom level of her home for the morning. Side note: Marley is the sole reason why I no longer roll my eyes at little dogs. She's the greatest little dog I've ever known. Just look at this cuteness...I knew early on Saturday morning that it was going to be a great day. Just look at how little I paid for gas...
It's the simple things that make me happy, people. Petrol is still around 2.09 in Athens and honestly I can't remember the last time I paid under $2/gallon so I felt a photo was necessary to document this momentous occasion. Cash and I finally arrived in Dahlonega around 1:30 or so and the first stop was the reservoir...
This arrived in Dahlonega a few years after Wal-Mart and cable tv in the dorms (excuse me, residence halls) arrived. I'm pretty sure the county went into some sort of large-scale debt over this big mud puddle as well, but nonetheless, it's very pretty and my puppy loved it...
After a few more minutes of wading, I decided to head over to the square....Welcome to Mayberry, folks. My favorite part of driving into Dahlonega is driving over Crown Mountain. But as I was driving in yesterday I couldn't help but to think about how my perspective of the town has changed since I've been gone. It's so small. I've grown accustomed to the convenience of living in a bigger place. (I act as if Athens is the ATL...I'm such a small town girl at heart.) While I miss it, I couldn't imagine myself living there again. After walking around the square, I headed over to campus...It has changed with the addition of two new buildings since I moved, but whenever I think of North Georgia, this is usually one of the first images that come to mind...the drill field with the Price Memorial steeple in the background. I sometimes think of this place too...
It's crazy to think that I lived two years of my life here in this building. I wouldn't trade those two years for all the money in the Federal Reserve though (ok that's not really saying much these days, but just roll with it). What fun we had on the spite of the pepto bismol pink paint and Laura Ashley wallpaper. I wonder how Gretchen the ghost is doing. I wish that she would come and fold my laundry. I guess that she lives amongst all boys now since it's no longer the Greek dorm. (note: when I worked at North Georgia I was giving a tour to a family and I mentioned that Sanford was the greek residence hall and the girl goes "really, you have that many Greeks on campus?" in people from the country of Greece. Lawsy.) Cash's favorite part of the trip to campus was running on the drill field...
It's always a big hit with all the canines. I thought for sure that this dog would sleep all day long today after playing in the lake, running on the drill field and hiking a trail yesterday. No such luck. All of those things were just a faint memory of his past at 6:21 this morning. Walking back to the car I took one last picture of Price mainly because I liked the tree in front of it...
However when I uploaded these pictures to my computer last night I realized that the window to my first office is in it too. I wonder what it says for my career when my first office was a front corner office with a window and I've been windowless for over 4 years now. I'll think about that another day. Conveniently, the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River is just a mere 20 minutes from Dahlonega...
And since my family has forgotten what I look like, they decided to meet me there in the late afternoon. Because it's been so long since I've been home for a visit, mom had to take multiple pictures to remember me so she won't be alarmed when I show up at Thanksgiving...
This is just one of many failed attempts to get a picture of me with my dog. Note the middle child in the background. Poor thing, no one ever gives that boy any attention. Except for Cash who was so intent on watching him instead of looking at the camera. Right before we left mom did manage to get one where we were both paying attention though...
He was a big hit with fellow hikers and we were a sight to behold as he pulled me back down the mountain. Fortunately for me, the paparazzi was at the other end of the falls when that happened though. Since mom loves and photographs all of her children equally (I have to write that so their feelings won't be hurt should they ever stumble upon this blog one day) here are some other shots from the day...
I know what you're thinking so I'll go ahead and clear up any speculation. No, I did not get another little brother. For a moment I was worried too when 3 boys tumbled out of the truck instead of the usual 2, but turns out the addition is just one of Ethan's buddies.
However in this picture, Patrick and Micah favor more than Ethan and Micah do. Interesting.
I wish that I could say that when this picture was taken, Micah and I were having some sort of brother and sister bonding moment. Well, in a way I guess we were and it played out like this... Me: "Micah, stop spitting." ... Micah: "Why Heather? It's not getting on you so it's not a big deal." How can I argue with that?
Shortly after that exchange, I took this picture. I imagine that he was just taking a moment to think about how fortunate he is to have both a set of parents and an older sister who tells him what to do. Not to mention the sound "advice" he gets from this one too...
Oh when did he grow up? It must have happened when I blinked. I'm almost done, I promise. Fortunately it's a free country so you could have chosen to stop reading 15 pictures ago but for those of you who are still with me, here's one more...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Saw God Today

Here I sit on a Saturday night and I've been up since 4:50 this morning for fall Open House at the GC after a very long week. It goes without saying that I am tired. But I'm also very content because this afternoon I went to the place that I have missed so much here lately...Dahlonega. After a couple of hours there, I met my family at Amicolola Falls and here are just a few snapshots of this oh so pretty world that we live in... Now if I were a good photographer instead of just a girl who points her camera at something kind of cool looking and presses a button, I would have gotten the trees in this picture also instead of just their reflection in the pond. There really is something about the trees in the fall that I just love... I guess it's all of the vibrant color combinations. I can never get enough of them...And notice the Blue Ridge mountains in the background. It wasn't until I returned home from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado that I could see the "blueness" of the mountains here. Now every time I look at them, I think to myself how it really does look like a ridge of blue meeting the horizon. Told you that I can never get enough. I decided that less is more in terms of sharing my pictures with the blogoshpere though so be thankful that you've been spared from viewing the entire photo shoot. One of the things that I love about the mountains in the fall is that I am so captivated with the beauty of everything about them. When I truly take the time to look around and take it all in, it's essentially a spiritual experience. It is here in these moments when I am reminded that God is in the details. He could have just as easily made it so that all of the green leaves would just die, turn straight to brown and wither away in a matter of days. Instead he gives us a beautiful back drop made of multiple colored leaves for enjoying and living everyday life. Even more amazing is that he is in the details of his entire creation and that includes us. We all have purpose and a reason why we are here, but he has made us unique in our own gifts and talents so that we all carry out our purpose in different ways. Imagine if he had given us all the ability to sing and none of us the ability to play an instrument. (Or if you are like me, he gave you neither.) While singing is nice without music and vice versa, put them together and whoa...incredible. Finally, as I sit here and look back through these pictures I remember that this is just a mere glimpse of what is to come. My cup runneth over.